Ask the IT Consultant

Nov 11 2012   12:30AM GMT

OpenStack Take 3: Technology Overview

Beth Cohen Beth Cohen Profile: Beth Cohen

Question: Is there anything new about OpenStack’s underlying technology?

As I mentioned my previous post on the recently concluded OpenStack Summit held in San Diego October 2012, OpenStack needs to be taken seriously by anyone who is interested in building a public or private cloud.  For the more technically inclined the latest Folsom release has several new modules and features of interest to the enterprise and cloud service provider alike:

Quantum – Software Defined Networking (SDN), the latest darling of the cloud world is moving forward quickly with some really valuable features including L2 to L3 tunneling and a network API.  Expect to see lots of new development here.  On a side note, there was a great panel on the future of SDN moderated by Ken Pepple from Cloud Technology Partners, with people from Midokura, Big Switch and HP Cloud Services talking about their vision of the future for SDN.

Cinder – Now that Cinder has been spun out as its own named project, new features include intelligent location of Virtual Machine image storage, real snapshots, live migration, and more capability for large scale simultaneous VM initiations.

Keystone – New features includes support for role-based identify management (RBAC), PKI functionality, tools to add integration capability with enterprise grade account management systems such as Active Directory and other LDAP based systems.  Rumors of Kerberos support coming were floating around.

Documentation and security are both finally being taken seriously, with a half day documentation track on Monday morning and a full day of security related sessions on Thursday.  There was recognition among the lead techs that the developers who are creating OpenStack are not the users.  This resulted in much discussion regarding new features to make it easier to do deployments, upgrades (finally!) and manage it by operations folks.  There even was some discussion of IaaS/PaaS integration and how the VM’s work with the platform, a long overdue recognition that the IaaS and PaaS layers of the cloud stack are intimately related.

On the subject of operations, the tools to manage OpenStack are still weak, but they are no longer non-existent.  Ceilometer and heat among others look promising, but the better operations management tools are still mostly part of separate distributions such as Cloudscaling, Nebula, StackOps and others rather than being part of the product core.  While I do see the reasoning behind this thinking, at the very least we really need to have some standardized installation tools.  There is little benefit for every instance and distribution to reinvent the wheel.

One final note, one thing that was quite noticeable was that the Grizzly design sessions had a very different vibe from previous summits.  While some were packed with lots of discussions about new features, more often the Technical Project Lead and a few others ran the show with little input from the other participants in the room.  As the number contributors grow, the community is going to need to work hard to avoid having the immediacy of the Summit be diluted.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of meat already, but as can be seen by this tiny sampling of the current hot projects, there is still much work to be done.  The good news is the OpenStack community is ready willing and capable of delivering the goods in the coming months and years.

About the Author

Beth Cohen, Cloud Technology Partners, Inc.  Transforming Businesses with Cloud Solutions

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