OpenStack is an open source platform for creating cloud services. Special guest Eric Wright, who leads the Toronto VMUG and Virtual Design Master competition, joins Chris Wahl and Ethan Banks to bring some clarity to this cloudy topic.
Ethan launches the discussion by asking whether OpenStack is really a cloud management platform (CMP) or a cloud infrastructure platform (CIP). He cites a Redhat blog that defines a CMP as dealing with discovery, capacity planning, reporting, chargebacks, and other administrative functions. By contrast, a CIP instantiates the actual services used in the cloud, including compute, networking, and storage.
Eric says OpenStack exists in a mixed category, and shares the official term: a ubiquitous open platform (which Chris notes doesn’t really help).
OpenStack was created in 2010 as an alternative to Amazon Web Services that could be consumed by anyone, and anyone could contribute to it. It started with compute (Nova) and object storage (Swift). Other core projects include networking (Neutron), block storage (Cinder), a dashboard (Horizon), machine image templates (Glance), and ID management (Keystone).
The conversation turns to OpenStack complexity, and whether it’s a concern that all these various pieces will work together: “It’s a sticky ball of projects,” says Ethan. Internally, each project uses APIs to communicate with other projects, which was intentional to develop a loosely coupled and flexible architecture.
Eric discusses the DefCore committee, where key projects undergo rigorous testing and controls to ensure interoperability and stability. As new projects come online, they go through an incubation period before they become part of the core.
They also discuss the operational complexity of OpenStack. While developers like the consumability of OpenStack, Eric notes businesses sometimes look to packaged OpenStack offerings to help get the platform up and running. They want to use it as a product rather than nerding out on the code.
That said, even with packaged products, organizations need to be prepared to do some work on the back end. “Cloud is a methodology, not a technology,” says Eric.
Eric sees a lot of OpenStack usage to enable developers to spin up an environment quickly without engaging the Ops team.
Is OpenStack a fit for legacy workloads? Probably not, says Eric, but you can stand it up alongside your legacy platforms. You don’t have to rip and replace. The question is, is the enterprise ready for OpenStack? You have to have a business case for it.
There are two open distributions. If you choose RedHat, you chose the RDO implementation. If you choose Ubuntu, you use the Canoncial distribution. On the packaged side, you have options including Metacloud and Pistoncloud (both acquired by Cisco), Blue Box (acquired by IBM), and Mirantis. To play with OpenStack in your home lab, check out DevStack. Eric notes we’ll probably see Microsoft come out with a packaged distribution for Hyper-V.
Listen to the podcast to get all the crunchy OpenStack details.