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Posted October 16, 2012

Open Source Project Red Dwarf Brings Database as a Service to the OpenStack Cloud

By Sean Michael Kerner

SAN DIEGO - Most applications in the cloud rely on a database. While the cloud is all about the ability to elastically scale and resize compute capacity, scaling and resizing databases in the cloud hasn't always been that simple.

At the OpenStack Summit this week, developers from HP and Rackspace took to the stage to describe a new approach for delivering databases as a service, in the cloud. Officially called Project RedDwarf, the effort aims to enable cloud scale and provisioning capabilities for databases.

RedDwarf is being built on top of the OpenStack Nova compute platform. OpenStack is a multi-stakeholder open source cloud platform development effort. HP and Rackspace are both members of the OpenStack Foundation, which also includes Dell, Cisco, IBM, Red Hat and AT&T, among others.

Rackspace developer Tim Simpson said the RedDwarf effort began in April 2011, and HP joined the effort in October 2011. He added that RedDwarf is now not just a development idea, it's actually being used in production by customers.

At a high-level, Simpson defined RedDwarf as the treatment of the open source MySQL database as a first class citizen in OpenStack. While RedDwarf has initially been positioned as a tool for enabling the open source MySQL database as a service, it could be extended for other applications. Simpson said that RedDwarf could also potentially be used to standup and scale other databases, including PostgreSQL.

"It's a rich set of APIs for manipulating databases," Simpson said.

With those APIs, OpenStack users can scale database instances, as well as the associated memory and storage. The system can also be integrated to leverage the OpenStack Swift storage layer. HP developer Vipul Sabhaya, noted that Swift can be used for backups and to help ensure that database snapshots are stored securely.

The backup piece currently only exists however in HP's version of RedDwarf and has not yet been pushed into the public opens source project. Sabhaya said that the plan is to do that soon.

There is also a GUI in the works for RedDwarf, though there is at least one key step that that the developers want to happen first. Currently RedDwarf is not an official OpenStack project. The first step toward becoming a project is to be accepted into OpenStack incubation. By being in the incubated phase, RedDwarf has the potential to be more closely aligned with other OpenStack projects, including the Horizon dashboard.

In addition to becoming an incubated project, Simpson also wants more help building the effort.

"We'd love it if we had more contributors," Simpson said.

The RedDwarf project can be found at: https://launchpad.net/reddwarf.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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