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ESA implements open source based private cloud infrastructure

Author: Adrian Offerman

The European Space Agency (ESA) has implemented a private cloud infrastructure to offer IT services to its user communities. The datacentre in Frascati, Italy, is already operational, while a second datacentre in Darmstadt, Germany, has just been completed.

The infrastructure is partially built on Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), an open source Linux distribution also available as community edition (CentOS and Scientific Linux). The main feature of a cloud infrastructure is that new systems can be created (i.e. provisioned) from pre-built images instantaneously as virtual machines. These newly added systems can be up and running within minutes.

No proprietary standards

Key requirements were the highest level of availability and flexibility, and not having to depend on proprietary standards. To meet these requirements and other needs, ESA had to create their own private cloud on premise. According to Red Hat, the requirements of ESA dramatically differed from those of any other commercial organizations and quite often, the scenarios arising during the project were absolutely new.

The ESA Cloud is based on VCE Vblock Systems (an x86 blade infrastructure) and is managed entirely by Orange Business Services. Usage can be managed and monitored in real-time (metering) and enables chargeback operations to internal customers.

RHEL is one of the main operating systems that can be deployed on this infrastructure. It will be used for software development and testing, satellite data reprocessing, document management and more traditional day-to-day tasks.