Joyent Open Sources SmartOS for the Cloud

Joyent, a cloud software and services company, today open sourced its cloud operating system, SmartOS.

Colleen Miller

August 15, 2011

3 Min Read
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Having open-sourced Node.js and seen the positive reception to Facebook's Open Compute platform, Joyent is continuing in the open source tradition and releasing the source code of SmartOS, the operating system behind its cloud computing offerings.

Joyent developed SmartOS as a new complete cloud software stack. Today, it has ported KVM (Kernel Virtual Machine) to its SmartOS operating system and open sourced the code, making it freely available via download and launching a community that will continue the collaboration on the project.

More Options at the Hypervisor Level

SmartOS turns any server into an efficient multi-tenant application hosting platform. The open source project offers tools for application developers looking for reliable, resilient storage and efficient virtualization that Joyent has tuned and hardened for application deployment. Joyent says the open sourcing of this project openly challenges comparable hypervisor software from VMware, Microsoft, Red Hat and Citrix.

“Joyent SmartOS is the first hypervisor platform to emerge in five years, and it’s the only cloud server solution that can manage both KVM hardware virtualization and operating system-level virtualization on a single OS," said Jason Hoffman, chief scientist and co-founder.

Joyent, a seven-year-old cloud software and services company, has dedicated itself to addressing the issues of cloud, improving hardware utilization while providing highly elastic infrastructure that offers quality service to a wide class of users and tenants. Hoffman sees the move to open source SmartOS will contribute to the growth of cloud computing.

"Previously, we open-sourced Node.js and let other people come and contribute to it," he said. "The community will build on top of SmartOS. It's helpful for our company."

Impact of Open Compute

Hoffman also noted the impact of the Open Compute Project, in which Facebook shared its data center and server expertise with the world with the opening of its new data center in Prineville, Oregon this spring. "They said, 'This is how we build our hardware. And others should do it, too,'" Hoffman said.

Joyent's SmartOs is a real operating system that the company runs on bare metal hardware, according to Hoffman. "The public cloud presents challenges such as multi-tenant work, elasticity and on-demand use," he said. "People expect it to be up all the time. We want to give our clients four or five 9s of uptime, and at the price point where it is cheaper than doing it themselves, within margins for our business," he said. What Joyent found is the key to executing this is controlling hardware, so the OS goes to the kernel level, he explained.

The announcement was made in conjunction with KVM Forum at the Hyatt Regency Vancouver in Vancouver, Canada.

SmartOS has both OS-level and hardware-level virtualization on the same infrastructure. It has observability, a highly scalable foundation, and an enterprise storage stack. Downloads of the latest live distribution ISO image are available at the Joyent web site and the open source code is on GitHub.

Six Data Centers in North America

Joyent, which received an infusion of funding from Intel in 2009, runs six data centers in North America with a client mix that includes large enterprises in the gaming, media, mobile and e-commerce sectors. It sells software, SmartDataCenter, that runs entire data centers.

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