Cloud Computing

maddog's Doghouse

Article from Issue 204/2017

Virtual private cloud environments.

I have always felt that the best type of business was a "win-win-win" situation: The community of project and product producers should win, vendors of the projects and products should win, and, most of all, the end-user customers should win.

Many cloud solutions have central ownership by a large company that builds a server farm and sells hardware, software, or "platform" services to customers. Sometimes those sales are for money, sometimes for access to your information for marketing, and sometimes a combination of the two, but it is the end user who gives up something for access to the computer resources that they need. Almost always the end user has no control over where their data is stored, where their programs execute, or what programs they are executing. Because of a lack of control, the end user sometimes experiences charges that could be called "the end of the month surprise."

Without ownership of the resources, coupled with a lack of control, your data might fall under the laws of a country other than your own. Although your country's laws might protect you, another country's laws could expose your data for use, with no ability for you to change those laws by any means.

Recently I accepted the offer to become CEO at OptDyn [1], a company that offers that win-win-win solution through its open source, peer-to-peer, secure, and stable cloud solution called Subutai [2], as well as other "open" offerings.

Subutai forms virtual private cloud (VPC) environments for end users, who consume resources from authorized Subutai peers to grant resources for their applications. These peers mutually authenticate to create a virtual private network (VPN). Once the VPN is secured, peers contribute resources as Linux container hosts inside the VPN using a container-as-a-service (CaaS) cloud model. The end user can install any kind of service, application, or infrastructure software they wish on these hosts running in their cloud.

End-user cloud owners trade "goodwill" with peer owners in exchange for using their peer resources at an hourly goodwill rate. In the near future, an indelible blockchain-based ledger will be used to track goodwill and reputation while enabling smart contracts to implement service-level agreements (SLAs) between peer owners and cloud owners.

True to community values, Subutai awards "goodwill" for good deeds and habits that improve the system for everyone. Users inviting others, setting up peers, keeping peer uptimes high, reporting bugs, or even upgrading to new releases are awarded goodwill. You can gain even more goodwill by donating peer resources to open source projects. These projects can benefit from supporting infrastructure and by using resources for testing. In return, the open source projects may provide Subutai blueprints for their products to install and run on your private cloud at the press of a button. Everyone wins!

In my career, I have seen wasted resources in many settings, such as hospitals that have PCs running all the time but are idle 99 percent (or more) of the time, and universities with laboratories full of standalone PCs attached to a LAN, unable to reconfigure them easily to a high-performance cluster, while other parts of the organization suffer from a lack of resources. Subutai was designed to fix these problems.

Subutai can integrate the Internet of Things (IoT). Many of the IoT models I have seen adapt an application to the cloud and have the "Things" talk only to the application. Many "Things" in IoT can be presented as a resource, so these "resources" could be offered, bartered, or purchased by the entities that want them. A "virtual laboratory" could be set up using CaaS.

I know that "applications are everything." Subutai utilizes the Google App Engine APIs; all applications that run on that platform will run compatible binary on Subutai. On the other hand, other applications that are packaged into containers and use a "blueprint" to set up resources also can run with a small amount of application development work.

Readers who say, "This sounds really good. It is the integration, security, and the base functionality that I would like to have someday," do not have to wait. Subutai, a project originally funded by a government agency to be more efficient in sharing resources, was released as open source and is now in version 5.x, ready for use.

Development of Subutai is led by OptDyn Founder/CTO Alex Karasulu, who founded several projects at the Apache Software Foundation. He describes the Subutai engineering team, along with Director of Marketing and Media, Sally Khudairi, as "really, crazy good," and I agree with Alex.

OptDyn wants to grow the Subutai network, giving more access to resources around the world, and we invite you to download the code and join the community.



  1. OptDyn:
  2. Subutai:

The Author

Jon "maddog" Hall is an author, educator, computer scientist, and free software pioneer who has been a passionate advocate for Linux since 1994, when he first met Linus Torvalds and facilitated the port of Linux to a 64-bit system. He serves as president of Linux InternationalÆ.

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