HashiCorp Unveils Otto Open-Source App Delivery Tool

In addition to Otto, HashiCorp launched Nomad, an open-source scheduler for deployment and resource maximization.

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HashiCorp development tool

In the DevOps world, the open-source Vagrant tool has long been a standard application, enabling developers to create reproducible virtual development environments. HashiCorp, the lead commercial sponsor behind Vagrant, has been continuously improving a full suite of DevOps tools in recent years to complement Vagrant, and today it's going a step further, by redefining Vagrant itself.

"Otto is the successor to Vagrant, and the idea is to extend it into deployment and production as well," Armon Dadgar, co-founder and CTO of HashiCorp, told eWEEK.

While HashiCorp is positioning Otto as Vagrant's successor, Vagrant isn't going away. Otto is Vagrant's successor in a spiritual sense and not a technological one, Dadgar said. As such, Hashicorp is not deprecating Vagrant or abandoning the project. In another sense, Otto is a super-set of Vagrant that benefits from other HashiCorp tools to help enable deployments.

HashiCorp is a venture-backed firm that has raised $10 million to help fuel its development and market efforts. In addition to Vagrant, and now Otto, HashiCorp builds the Packer project for creating artifacts for application deployment, Consul for service discovery and Teraform for deployment infrastructure. HashiCorp also operates the commercial Atlas service that ties the company's open-source projects together.

In addition to the new Otto project, HashiCorp today announced the open-source Nomad scheduler project. The world of scheduling and orchestration is complicated and has multiple tools in the market already that serve different needs. Nomad fits into the deployment workflow by pooling together resources from a larger cluster to enable application deployment.

Dadgar explained that Nomad is a dynamic scheduler where an organization defines a fleet of machines and then jobs are provided to the systems online. Workloads are then placed onto specific machines in a way that maximizes utilization and efficiency.

For application availability, a common technology used since the beginning of the Web era is load balancer tools—also known today as application delivery controllers (ADCs).

Nomad is not an ADC, and fulfills a different need, Dadgar said. He explained that load balancers are typically a level of indirection from the application, where the load balancer proxies traffic across servers.

"Nomad is more on the orchestration and deployment side," Dadgar said. "You're saying you want to deploy, for example, 500 instances of a Web server and Nomad figures out the set of machines it should run on, orchestrates the download of the Web server image and boots the Web server."

From a deployment perspective, Nomad is a general-purpose scheduler and can run in bare metal, container or cloud environments, Dadgar said. In some respects, Nomad's functionality will overlap with platform-as-a-service (PaaS) scheduling features. For example, the popular open-source Cloud Foundry PaaS has its own scheduler, known as Diego, which plays a similar role to Nomad.

The initial release of Nomad is available as a command-line tool, and it will integrate into HashiCorp's broader platform of tools. A visual interface to Nomad will be part of HashiCorp's commercial Atlas service.

Another element that helps tie HashiCorp's tools together is the Vault project, which was announced in May, that helps provide secure access and identity.

"The initial release of Nomad will not integrate with Vault, but our roadmap is to integrate it in the future," Dadgar said.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.