Test Driving an ARM-based Cloud

By now, most people have probably heard about French telecom Iliad’s plans to build a cloud running servers using ARM chips. It’s an interesting twist on the typical cloud setup for a few different reasons. Most clouds run on Intel X86 processors. Iliad’s cloud will utilize ARM-based chips in lieu of the X86 processors most public and private clouds use. Will this attract mobile developers, as Iliad hopes? Time will tell. But thanks to a contact at Iliad, I was lucky enough to be given a test drive of this ARM powered cloud. My thoughts are below.

An ARM Powered Cloud

The dashboard for the online.net cloud is fairly straightforward, and is similar to other cloud dashboards.

Online.net Dashboard

Creating a new instance is straight forward. You’re presented with a single instance type (C1) for now.

Server Type

Online.net provides some good image choices.

Image Choices

The last step is to add a volume.

Volume Selection

Once you’ve done this, you’ll see your instance running. In the example below, I have two instances running.

Volume Selection

All of this is fairly straightforward. Online.net provides some impressive documentation, as well as a great community forum for collaboration with other online.net cloud users. The APIs for the cloud are great as well, I’m guessing someone will integrate this with vagrant fairly quickly.

What About OpenStack?

Since I typically work on OpenStack, I wanted to try and run devstack on my C1 cloud instance. The good news is this worked out great! Note, I had to utilize the Ubuntu 14.10 Utopic image, as the Trusty one failed as it can’t find the ‘python-guestfs’ package, which nova requires. With Utopic, I had to run devstack with “FORCE=yes” since Utopic isn’t officially supported yet. But it worked! I added the following to my local.conf to make it work with Neutron and to ensure I had ARM capable Cirros images:

IPSEC_PACKAGE=ike
CIRROS_ARCH=arm

Conclusions

An ARM-based cloud is an interesting option. I’m excited to see online.net offering this. It’s going to be fun to see them roll it out for general availability during 2015.