Project of the Month, August 2008

By Community Team

Enomalism


Project Leader:

Reuven Cohen

Reuven Cohen
Age: 29
Experience: Co-Founder & CTO (Idea Guy)
Education: Hard Knocks
Location: Toronto

Why did you place the project on SourceForge.net?

SourceForge has been great from both a visibility point of view as well as a management point of view. The free bandwidth for downloads has also helped keep our costs down!

How has SourceForge.net helped you?

SourceForge has help spread the word like no other service. You guys rock!

The number one benefit of using SourceForge.net is:

Download and release management.

Project name: Enomalism
Date founded/started: 2005
Project page: http://sourceforge.net/projects/enomalism

Description of project:

How would you describe Enomalism?

Enomalism allows users to create and run any application without worry of infrastructure failure. It is a cost effective way to setup your infrastructure as a scalable world wide virtual compute utility similar to Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud.

Why and how did you get started?

We originally came up with the idea back in 2005. At that time we were having a lot of trouble scaling open source software stacks. For the most part our open source projects involved the development of open source content management systems and portal systems for large “fortune 500” type organizations. These were usually built in Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP, and Python (LAMPP). One the major challenges in those early LAMPP deployments was in there inability to easily scale. The majority of the PHP system at that time (circa 2003) were built for low volume / lower usage sites. We then took the tools we had be developing as part of our customer deployments and released it as an open source project called Enomalism in late 2005.

Back then virtualization was just starting to catch on and we immediately saw an opportunity to use the new Xen hyper-visor as a mechanism to adjust the application environment on the fly based on the “somewhat” real time demands placed on the overall environment. Typically this meant adjusting RAM, storage, networking and creating replicated LVM snap shots wherever possible. We also utilized openLDAP & ssh based authentication providing for a method of utility and metered access to the virtualized resource pool (now called cloud). We also saw an opportunity in using a URI based webservice instead of the more common SOAP approach of the time. This approach later became known as RESTful web services. We described this method for the automatic scaling of an application by tying an application server (Apache) directly to the hypervisor as “elastic computing,” well before anyone else that I am aware of. This more recently has become known as “cloud computing” or “infrastructure as a service.”

Although our first attempts at “elastic computing” were for the most part a financial disappointment they did act as an opportunity generator, opening doors to projects and companies we may never had access to otherwise. Among those was in July of 2006 when Amazon came knocking. At the time they had been working on a top secret project described as a “grid utility.” For the first time, our idea for tapping into resources beyond the confines of your data center were starting to take shape. Over the next few months we took this opportunity to learn as much as we could about the benefits as well as the hurdles to creating this type of large scale compute utility. When Amazon EC2 finally launched into a private beta (one we could publicly speak about), we were amazed at the amount of interest our up until then unknown products suddenly received. Among the opportunities that presented was the chance to work with Intel on several next generation virtualization and media projects (Intel remains our biggest customer). We had found our product, and it was in the cloud.

What is the software’s intended audience?

Anyone who has capacity constraints. Our typical users include hosting companies looking to create EC2 like offerings, major telecoms, and large enterprises looking for a more flexible resource usage and the ability to securely tie their existing data centers with remote clouds such as Amazon’s EC2.

How many people do you believe are using your software?

We have an active list of approximately 12,000 and 1,000 beta testers.

What are a couple of notable examples of how people are using your software?

We are currently working with a large hosting firm in the development of a cloud offering. The deployment when complete may top 50,000 servers.

What gave you an indication that your project was becoming successful?

In the last 6 weeks we’ve had 50+ unsolicited VC inquires. We also are having trouble keeping up with the amount of customer requests. Business is booming for cloud computing related technologies and we’re living proof.

What has been your biggest surprise?

In the last three years there has been a major shift from traditional computing to that of a cloud based model. When we first came up with the idea, we had no idea if it would actually fly. Some of the companies that today or the biggest “could” proponents originally told us we were crazy. To our surprise we are now considering pioneers in the cloud computing world. Guess we weren’t so crazy after all.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Trying to deal with a distributed development team and providing support for our rather complex products. Trying to find experienced developers who understand scaling 100 servers is hard, trying to find developers who have experience scaling 50,000 servers is impossible.

Why do you think your project has been so well received?

We’re really one of the only infrastructure focused cloud computing products open or closed source which gives us a first-mover advantage. The system is also light weight and supports a variety of hypervisors giving our users complete flexibility.

Where do you see your project going?

We hope to make our platform the “Apache” of cloud computing, the preferred platform for anyone looking to create scalable, multi-tenant, hosted applications.

What’s on your project wish list?

We’re looking at increasing our hypervisor support to VMware, and microsoft hyper-v, as well as including a utility metering and billing system.

What are you most proud of?

My team. They have worked tirelessly to make this product what it is. I would have nothing with them.

If you could change something about the project, what would it be?

Our website needs work, I think we need to focus on providing a better support system for users interested in getting up to speed with Enomalism.

How do you coordinate the project?

We use SVN, Trac and SourceForge.

Do you work on the project full-time, or do you have another job?

This our full time business. Our clients include Intel and France Telecom.

Milestones:

Milestone Date Description
Initial Development November 2005
1.0 Release May 2006
2.0 Alpha April 2008
2.1 Beta July 2008
2.25 Stable Release September 2008
2.5 January 2009
3.0 September 2009

How can others contribute?

They can signup on the projects of the month.


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