Some Important Openstack Features

TYPES OF STORAGE PROVIDED BY OPENSTACK .

OpenStack supports two types of storage:

1. Persistent Storage or volume storage

2. Ephemeral Storage

Persistent Storage / Volume Storage: It is persistent which means it will be available at later stage when the instance is shut down and independent of any particular instance. This storage is created by users.

Types of Persistent Storage

    • Object storage: It is used to access binary objects through the REST API.
    • Block storage: This is the traditional type of storage which we also see in our general computer systems.
    • Shared File System storage: It provides a set of services to manage multiple files together for storage.

Ephemeral Storage:  It is a temporary that is disappeared once the VM is terminated.

What is hypervisor? What type of hypervisor does OpenStack supports?

Hypervisor is a piece of computer software or hardware that is used to create and run virtual machines.

A list of hypervisor that supports OpenStack:

  • KVM
  • VMware
  • Containers
  • Xen and HyperV

What is OpenStack.

MNC’s define OpenStack as the future of Cloud Computing. OpenStack is a platform to create and handle massive groups of virtual machines through a Graphical User Interface.
Openstack is free, open-source software and works similar to Linux.
openstack
Key components of OpenStack?
• Horizon: This is the GUI of openstack.

• Nova: Primary computing engine to manage multiple virtual machines and computing tasks

• Swift: This is a very robust service used for the object storage management.
• Cinder: Like our traditional computer storage system, it is a block storage system in OpenStack.
• Neutron: Used for the networking services in openstack
• Keystone: Identity Management service which uses tokens.
• Glance: image service provider. Images are the virtual copies of hard disks.
• Ceilometer: Provides telemetry services to cloud users.
• Heat (Orchestration Engine): It helps developers to illustrate automated infrastructure deployment

 

Capitulation? Mirantis refactors OpenStack on top of Kubernetes

First, the guts of the announcement: Mirantis, the bad boys of the OpenStack world, are today announcing a collaboration with Google (a company that has pretty much zero history with OpenStack) and Intel. Under the intent of the collaboration, the life cycle management tool for OpenStack, Fuel, will be rewritten so that it uses Kubernetes as its underlying orchestration.

Lots of inside baseball there, so what are all these different products?

  • OpenStack is the open source cloud computing operating system that was jointly created by Rackspace and NASA and has since built a massive following of companies (including IBM, HPE, Intel and many, many others).
  • Kubernetes is the open source orchestration platform loosely descended from the tools that Google uses internally to operate its own data centers.
  • Fuel, as stated previously, was (is) the OpenStack-native life cycle management tool for OpenStack.

So what does it all mean? Well, it’s actually far more important than first appearances would suggest. It marks, at least to some extent, an admission by all concerned that OpenStack isn’t the be-all and end-all of the infrastructure world

That positioning, which might seem blindingly obvious to anyone who is aware of the heterogeneity of modern enterprise IT, somewhat goes against what we heard from the OpenStack camp for its first few years, when pundits would be excused for thinking that OpenStack was the solution for every possible situation. It seems now, however, that OpenStack is simply a part of the solution — and virtual machines, containers and bare-metal systems all have a part to play in enterprise IT going forward.

Under the terms of the collaboration, Mirantis will initiate a new continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipeline under the OpenStack Fuel project for building capabilities around containerized OpenStack deployment and operations. The resulting software will give users fine-grain control over the placement of services used for the OpenStack control plane, as well as the ability to do rolling updates of OpenStack, make the OpenStack control plane self-healing and more resilient, and smooth the path for the creating of microservices-based applications on OpenStack.

If that sounds familiar, that would be because it is much the same proposition that we heard from Alex Polvi of CoreOS fame a few months ago — the difference here is that it comes from an OpenStack player that is front-and-center of the movement, an arguably far more substantive statement.

And some big names have poured the love into this collaboration — in particular Mirantis and Google, originators of Kubernetes.

“With the emergence of Docker as the standard container image format and Kubernetes as the standard for container orchestration, we are finally seeing continuity in how people approach operations of distributed applications,” said Mirantis CMO Boris Renski. “Combining Kubernetes and Fuel will open OpenStack up to a new delivery model that allows faster consumption of updates, helping customers get to outcomes faster.”

Google Senior Product Manager Craig McLuckie also chimed in. “Leveraging Kubernetes in Fuel will turn OpenStack into a true microservice application, bridging the gap between legacy infrastructure software and the next generation of application development,” he said. “Many enterprises will benefit from using containers and sophisticated cluster management as the foundation for resilient, highly scalable infrastructure.”

Along with the initial work on the Fuel aspects, Mirantis will also become an active contributor to the Kubernetes project, and has stated the ambition to become a top contributor to the project over the next year.

Alongside that, Mirantis has joined the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, a Linux Foundation project dedicated to advancing the development of cloud-native applications and services, as a Silver member.

MyPOV

This is a big deal, there’s no denying that. OpenStack is slowly but inexorably becoming less of a “solution for everything” and more of an integral part. Skeptics would suggest that this marks a turning point where OpenStack ceases to be a compelling long-term proposition in and of itself and becomes simply a stop-gap measure between traditional architectures and more cloud-native approaches.

The reality is probably somewhere in the middle — and OpenStack will still have a part to play in infrastructure going forward — but clearly Mirantis’ move to embrace Kubernetes is an indication that it realizes that it needs to extend beyond a pure-play OpenStack offering.

As always, this space provides huge interest and much entertainment — a situation that looks unlikely to change anytime soon

Getting started with basics of building your own cloud

Openstack Cloud tutorial

My daily routine involves too much of AWS Cloud infrastructure. And let me tell you AWS now has grown to an extent that it has now become the synonym of Cloud. I mean they have grown without leap and bounds in the past few years and believe me many other major players are not even near them in the cloud arena (Yeah of course Google and Microsoft does have their own cloud solutions which are pretty brilliant for all use cases, but nobody has the user/customer base that aws has in their public cloud architecture).

Nothing can match the flexibility, elasticity, and ease of use that cloud provides.  Because I remember when I use to work with physical hardware machines (I had to literally wait for hours to get one ready up and running for an emergency requirement. Then if I need additional storage for that machine again wait some more time.) . And if you are using the cloud, then you can spin up a few cloud servers in seconds (believe me in seconds) and test whatever you want.

What is OpenStack Cloud?

An year ago I happen to read an article from netcraft regarding their findings on AWS. According to them in 2013 itself AWS has crossed the mark of 158K in the total number of public facing computers.

Now imagine if you get the same features that AWS cloud provides with something open source that you can build in your own data centre. Isn’t that amazing? Well that’s the reason why tech giants like IBM, HP, Intel, Red Hat, CISCO, Juniper, Yahoo, Dell, Netapp, Vmware, Godaddy, Paypal, Canonical(Ubuntu) support and fund such a project.

This open source project is called as Open Stack, and is currently supported by more than 150 tech companies worldwide. It all started as a combined project by NASA and Rackspace in 2009 (well both were independently developing their own individual projects, which at a later point got together and later called as OpenStack). Well NASA was behind a project called as NOVA(which is very analogous to amazon ec2 and provided computing feature), and Rackspace built another tool called as Swift(a highly scalable object storage solution, very similar to AWS S3).

Apart from these, there are other components that help make openstack very much same as aws cloud(we will be discussing each of them shortly, and in upcoming tutorials, we will configure each of them to build our own cloud).

Openstack can be used by anybody who wants their own cloud infrastructure, similar to AWS. Although its origin will trace back to NASA, its not actively developed/supported by NASA any more.

And they are currently leveraging aws public cloud infrastructure J

If you want to simply use openstack public cloud, then you can use Rackspace Cloud, ENovance, HP cloud etc(these are very much similar to aws cloud.) with their cost associated. Apart from these public openstack cloud offerings, there are plug and play cloud services, where you have dedicated hardware appliance for openstack. Just purchasing it and plugging it would turn it into an openstack cloud service without any further configurations.

Let’s now discuss some of the crucial components of OpenStack, which when combined together will make a robust cloud like any other commercial cloud (Like AWS), that too in your datacenter, completely managed and controlled by your team.

When you talk about cloud, the first thing that comes to your mind will be virtualization. Because virtualization is the technology that caused this cloud revolution possible. Virtualization basically is nothing but the method of slicing resources of a physical machine to smaller/required parts, and those slices will act as independent hosts sharing resources with other slices on the machine.  This enables optimal use of computing resources.

  • OpenStack Compute:  So one of the main component of cloud is virtual machines, that can scale without bounds. This need of the cloud in openstack is fulfilled by something called as Nova. Nova is the name of the software component in OpenStack cloud, that offers and manages virtual machines.

Apart from the compute requirements, the second major requirement is storage. There are two different types of storage in the cloud, one is block storage(very similar to the way how you use RAID partition on any of your servers and format it and use it for all kind of local storage needs), or  normal disk storage, where your operating system files are installed etc.

  • OpenStack block storage (Cynder): will work similar to attaching and detaching an external hard drive to your operating system, for its local use. Block storage is useful for database storage, or raw storage for the server(like format it, mount it and use it), or else you can combine several for distributed file system needs (like you can make a large gluster volume, out of several block storage devices attached to a virtual machine launched by Nova).

The second type of storage full fills the scaling needs, without bounds. You need a storage that can scale without worry. Where your storage need is of static objects. This can be used for storing static large data like backups, archives etc. It can be accessed with its own API, and is replicated cross datacenter, to withstand large disasters.

  • OpenStack Object storage(Swift): is suitable for storing multimedia content like videos, images, virtual machine images, backups, email storage, archives etc. This type of data needs to grow without any limitation, and needs to be replicated. This is exactly what OpenStack swift is designed to do.

Last but not the least, comes Networking. Networking in the cloud has become so matured that you can create your own private networks, access control lists, create routes between them, interconnect different networks, connect to remote network using VPN etc. Almost all of these needs of an enterprise cloud is taken care by openstack networking.

  • Openstack Networking(Nova-networking, or Neutron): When I say openstack networking, think of it as something that manages networking for all our virtual hosts(instances), and provide IP address both private and public. You might be thinking that networking in virtualization is quite easy by setting up a bridge adapter and routing all traffic through it, similar to many virtual adapters. But here we are talking about an entire cloud, that should have public ip’s, that can be attached, detached from the instances that we launch inside, there must be one fixed ip for each instance, and then there must never be a single point of failure etc.

According to me openstack networking is the most complex thing that needs to be designed by taking extreme care. We will be discussing openstack networking in very detail, in a dedicated post, because of its complexity, and importance. Also it can be done with two different tools. One is called as nova-networking, and the other is called as neutron. Please note the fact that each and every component of openstack cloud needs special attention on its own, as they are each very distinct and work combined together to form a cloud. Hence i will be doing dedicated post for each of its major components.

Openstack is very highly configurable, due to this very reason, its quite difficult to mention all of its possible configurations in a tutorial. You will come to know about this, at a later point, when we start configuring things in the upcoming series of posts.

Higher Level Overview of Openstack Architecture

Component Name Used for Similar to
Horizon A dashboard for end users or administrators to access other backend services AWS Management Web Console
Nova Compute Manages virtualization and takes requests from end user through dashboard or API to form virtual Instances AWS Elastic Compute
Cynder For Block storage, directly attachable to any virtual instance, similar to an external hard drive EBS(Elastic Block Store)
Glance This is used for maintaining a catalog for images and is kind of a repository for images. AMI (Amazon Machine Images)
Swift This is used for Object storage that can be used by your applications or instances to store static objects like multimedia files, backups, store images, archives etc. AWS S3
Keystone This component is responsible for managing authentication services for all components. Like a credentials and authorization, and authentication for users AWS Identity And Access Management(IAM)

You might have got an idea of what OpenStack Cloud actually is till now. Let’s now answer some questions, that can really prove helpful in getting a little bit more idea of what openstack really is, or say how these individual components fit together to form a cloud.

What is Horizon Dashboard?

Its nothing but a web interface for users and administrators to interact with your OpenStack cloud. Its basically a Django Web Application implemented in mod_wsgi and Apache. Its primary objective is to interact with the backend API’s of other components and execute requests initiated by users. It interacts with keystone authentication service, to authorize requests before doing anything

Does nova-compute perform virtualization?

Well, nova-compute basically is a daemon that does the job of creating and terminating virtual machines. It does this job through virtual machine API calls. There is something called as a libvirt library. Libvirt is nothing but an API for interacting with Linux virtualization technologies(its a free and open source software that needs to be installed with nova as a dependency).

Basically libvirt gives nova-compute, the functionality to send API requests to KVM, Xen, LXC, OpenVZ, Virtualbox, Vmware, Parallels hypervisors.

So when a user in openstack requests to launch a cloud instance, what actually happens is nova-compute sending requests to hypervisors using libvirt. Well other than libvirt, nova-compute can send requests directly to Xen-Api, vSphere API etc. This wide support of different virtualization technologies is the main strength of nova.

How does Swift Work?

Well swift is a highly scalable object storage. Object Storage in itself, is a big topic, so i recommend reading the below post.

Unlike block storage, files are not organized in hierarchical name space. But they are organized in a flat name space. Although it can give you an illusion of a folder with contents inside, all files inside all folders are in a single name space, due to which scaling becomes much easier compared to block storage.

Swift uses multiple commodity servers and backend storage devices to combine together and form a large pool of storage as per the requirement of the end user. This can be scaled without bounds, by simply adding more nodes in the future.

swift object storage

What is keystone?

Its a single point of contact for policy, authentication, and identity management in openstack cloud. It can work with different authentication backends like Ldap, SQL or a simple key value store.

Keystone has two primary functions

  • Manage Users. Like tracking of all users, and their permissions.
  • Service list/catalog. This is nothing but providing information regarding what services are available and their respective API endpoint details.

What is Openstack Cinder?

As discussed before and shown in the diagram, cinder is nothing but a block storage service. It provides a software block storage on top of basic traditional block storage devices to instances that nova-compute launches.

In simple terms we can say that cinder does the job of virtualizing pools of block storage(any traditional storage device) and makes it available to end users via API. Users use those virtual block storage volume inside their virtual machines, without knowing where the volume is actually deployed in the architecture, or knowing details about the underlying device of the storage.

Building Your Application for Cloud Portability – An Alternative Approach to Hybrid Cloud

 

TOSCA | Hybrid Cloud | Cloud Portability | Cloud Orchestration | Hybrid IT | Open Source Cloud Automation | Cloud Orchestration Tools | Multi-Cloud
In my previous post, I discussed the differences between hybrid cloud and cloud portability, as well as how to achieve true hybrid cloud deployments without compromising on infrastructure API abstraction, by providing several use cases for cloud portability.

Cloud Portability Defined (again)

For the sake of clarity, I thought it would be a good idea to include my definition of cloud portability again here: “Cloud portability is the ability to run the same application on multiple cloud infrastructures, private or public. This is basically what makes hybrid cloud possible.”

Clearly, the common infrastructure API abstraction approach forces too many restrictions on the user which makes it fairly useless for many of the cloud portability use cases.

In this post, I would like to propose another method for making cloud portability, and therefore true hybrid cloud, a reality.

An Alternative Approach

One of the use cases I previously mentioned for allowing application deployment portability to an environment, that doesn’t conform to the same set of features and APIs, is iOS and Android. With operating systems, we see that software providers are able to successfully solve the portability aspect without forcing a common abstraction.

What can we learn about cloud portability from the iOS/Android use case?

Treat portability differently between the application consumer and the application owner – One of the main observation from the iOS/Android case is that, while the consumer is often completely abstracted from the differences between the two platforms, the application developer is not abstracted and often needs to treat each platform differently and sometimes even duplicate certain aspects of the application’s components and logic to suit the underlying environment. The application owner, therefore, has the incentive to support and even invest in portability as this increases the application’s overall market reach.

Minimizing the differences, not eliminating them – While the application owner has more incentive to support each platform natively, it is important to use cloud portability as a framework that will allow for minimizing but not eliminating the differences to allow simpler development and maintenance.

The main lesson from this use case is that, to achieve a similar degree of cloud portability, we need to make a distinction between the application consumer and the application owner. For cloud portability, in order to ensure a native experience for the application consumer, we need to assume that the application owner will be required to duplicate their integration effort per target cloud.

 

This is the same approach we should take with cloud application portability!
 

So, how does one go about doing that?

Achieving Cloud Portability with ARIA – A Simple Multi-Cloud Orchestration Framework

In this section, I will refer to this specific project as a means by which to illustrate the principles that I mentioned above in more concrete terms.

Project ARIA is a new Apache-licensed project that provide simple, zero footprint multi-cloud orchestration based on TOSCA. It was built originally as the core orchestration for Cloudify and is now an independent project.

The diagram below provides an inside look at the ARIA architecture.

 

There are three pillars, upon which ARIA is built, that are needed to manage the entire stack and lifecycle of an application:

1) An infrastructure-neutral, easily extensible templating language

2) Cloud plugins

3) Workflows

TOSCA Templating Language vs. API Abstraction

ARIA utilizes the TOSCA templating language in its application blueprints which provides a means for deploying and orchestrating a single application on multiple infrastructures through individual plugins, thereby circumventing the need for a single abstraction layer.

Templating languages, such as TOSCA, provide far greater flexibility for abstraction than API abstraction as it allows easy extensibility and customization without the need to develop or change the underlying implementation code. This is done by mapping the underlying cloud API into types and allowing the user to define the way it accesses and uses those types through scripts.

With Cloudify, we chose to use TOSCA as the templating language because of its inherent infrastructure-neutral design as well as being designed as a DSL which has lots of the characteristics of a language that utilizes the support of inheritance, interfaces and a strong typing system.

Cloud Plugins

Built-in plugins for a wide range of cloud services provide out of the box integration points with the most common of these services, but unlike the least common denominator approach (i.e. a single API abstraction layer), they can be easily extended to support any cloud service.

Workflows

Workflows enable interaction with the deployment graph and provide another way to abstract common cloud operational tasks such as upgrades, snapshots, scaling, etc.

Putting It All Together

By combining the three aforementioned elements, the user is given a set of building blocks for managing the entire application stack and its lifecycle. It also provides a richer degree of flexibility that allows users to define their own degree of abstraction per use case or application.

In this manner, cloud portability is achievable without the need to change your underlying code, and, in doing so, you enable true hybrid cloud.

VMware: We love OpenStack!

A few years ago VMware and OpenStack were foes. Oh, how times have changed.

This week VMware is out with the 2.5 release of its VMware Integrated OpenStack (VIO). The virtualization giant continues to make it easier to run the open source cloud management tools on top of VMware virtualized infrastructure.

VMware, Inc

VIO’s 2.5 release shows the continued commitment by VMware to embrace OpenStack, something that would have seen out of the question a few short years ago.

The 2.5 release comes with some nifty new features: Users can automatically important vSphere virtual machine images into their VIO OpenStack cloud now. The resource manager control plane is slimmed down by 30% so it takes up less memory. There are better integrations with VMware’s NSX too.

The news shows the continued maturation of both the open source project and the virtualization giant. Once VMware and OpenStack were seen as rivals. In many ways, they still are. Both allow organizations to build private clouds. But VMware (smartly in my opinion) realized that giving customers choice is a good thing. Instead of being an all or nothing VMware vs. OpenStack dichotomy, VMware has embraced OpenStack, allowing VMware’s virtualization management tools to serve up the virtualized infrastructure OpenStack needs to operate.

VMware’s doing the same thing with application containers. Once seen as a threat to virtual machines, VMware is making the argument that the best place to run containers are in it’s virtual machines that have been slimmed down and customized to run containers. Stay tuned to see if all these gambles pay off.

OpenStack digs for deeper value in telecoms, network virtualization

NFV can be a major OpenStack application, which is great for telecom, but will enterprises go for it, too?

OpenStack has long been portrayed as a low-cost avenue for creating private clouds without lock-in. But like many projects of its sprawl and size, it’s valuable for its subfunctions as well. In particular, OpenStack comes in handy for network function virtualization (NFV).

A report issued by the OpenStack Foundation, “Accelerating NFV Delivery with OpenStack,” makes a case for using OpenStack to replace the costly, proprietary hardware often employed with NFV, both inside and outside of telecoms. But it talks less about general enterprise settings than it does about telecoms, a vertical industry where OpenStack has been finding uptake.

money-shovel-100252571-primary.idge

The paper also shows how many telecom-specific NFV features — such as support for multiple IPv6 prefixes — are being requested or submitted by telecoms that are OpenStack users.

That’s not to say the telecom tail has been wagging the OpenStack dog, but it does mean that some of OpenStack’s most urgently requested — and most immediately adopted — features come from that crowd. It also raises the question of how readily those features will be deployed outside of telecoms, especially given OpenStack’s reputation as fragmented, friable, and difficult to learn.

OpenStack’s presence in the telecom world has been established for years now. Auser survey conducted back in 2014 showed that while the number of companies using OpenStack that described themselves as telecommunications companies were proportionately small, the companies in question were high-profile in their field (NTT, Deutsche Telekom).

In the most recent user survey, self-identified telecom comprised only 12 percent of the total OpenStack user base. But the 64 percent labeled “information technology” also included “cable TV and ISP,” “telco and networking,” “data center/co-location,” and other labels that could easily be considered part of a telco’s duty roster.

Network function virtualization is the second-largest OpenStack technology its users are interested in, according to the survey. The technology that took the top spot, however, was containers. That’s where OpenStack vendors (such asMirantis and Red Hat) are making their most direct appeals to the enterprise, but it’s still an open question whether a product of OpenStack’s size and cognitive load is the best way to do so.

To that end, even if OpenStack is a major force in NFV, the bigger question is whether enterprises interested in NFV/SDN (the two terms overlap) will adopt OpenStack as their solution. Some of the mystery may be due to how the changes involved in deploying NFV are a bitter pill for an enterprise of most any size to swallow — but it may again come down to OpenStack still being too top-heavy for its own good.

OpenStack simplifies management with Mitaka release

The latest OpenStack release provides a unified CLI, standardized APIs across projects, and one-step setups for many components

ent-software-businessman-ts-100539050-primary.idge

The latest revision of OpenStack, dubbed Mitaka, was officially released yesterday and boasts simplified management and improved user experience as two prominent features.

Rather than leave such features to a particular distribution, OpenStack has been attempting to integrate them into the project’s core mission. But another big OpenStack effort — its reorganization of the project’s management — is still drawing criticism.

Pulling it all together

A unified OpenStack command-line client is a key new feature intended to improve both management and user experiences. Each service, current or future, can register a command set with the client through a plug-in architecture. Previously, each OpenStack project had an individual CLI, and managing multiple aspects of OpenStack required a great deal of switching between clients, each with its own command sets.

At the same time, API calls for the various subprojects in OpenStack are now more uniform, along with the SDKs that go with them, so it’s easier for developers to write apps that plug directly into OpenStack components.
OpenStack instances are also easier to get up and running — an aim with each passing revision of OpenStack. This time around, more of the platform’s core settings come with defaults chosen, and many previously complex setup operations have been whittled to a single step. OpenStack’s identity and networking services, Keystone and Neutron, both feature these improvements.

Big tent or big problems?

Mitaka marks the first major OpenStack release since the project adopted its Big Tent governance model. In an attempt to tame project sprawl, OpenStack resolved to reform the way projects are included and to describe which projects are best suited to what scenarios.

Julien Danjou, software engineer at Red Hat and author of “The Hacker’s Guide to Python,” believes OpenStack’s core problems haven’t been solved by the Big Tent model. “OpenStack is still stuck between its old and new models,” he said in a blog post. The old model of OpenStack, a tiny ecosystem with a few integrated projects, has given way to a great many projects where “many are considered as second-class citizens. Efforts are made to continue to build an OpenStack project that does not exist anymore,” Danjou said.

Chris Dent, a core contributor to OpenStack, feels Big Tent has diluted the project’s unity of purpose. “We cannot effectively reach our goal of interoperable but disparate clouds if everyone can build their own custom cloud by picking and choosing their own pieces from a collection,” he said.

Dent thinks OpenStack should be kept small and focused, “with contractually strong APIs … allowing it to continue to be an exceptionally active member of and user of the larger open source community.”

Mitaka’s work in unifying the API set and providing a common CLI are steps in that direction. But countering that is OpenStack’s tendency to become more all-encompassing, which appeals only to a narrow, vertical set of customers — service providers, for instance, or operations like eBay — with the cash and manpower to make it work.

DreamHost replaces VMware SDN with open source for big savings

OpenStack code developed by spin-out company nets 70% capex, 40% opex cuts

SANTA CLARA – In a convincing example of the viability of open source networking, cloud provider DreamHost saved 70% in capital and 40% in operational costs by replacingVMware’s NSX SDN with open source alternatives.

In a presentation at the Open Networking Summit here, suppliers Cumulus Networks and Akanda – a DreamHost spin-out NFV business — said the cloud provider replaced NSX due to scaling and Layer 3 support issues. DreamHost did not speak and was not present during the presentation, but posted a blog entry on the project here last Friday

The project involved DreamHost’s DreamCompute public cloud compute service, which is based on OpenStack and Ceph object store and file system. The core networking requirements for DreamCompute are Layer 2 tenant isolation, IPv6 and 10G+ “everywhere.”

The first generation of the DreamCompute networking infrastructure included Nicira’s NVP network virtualization software for Layer 2 isolation, and Cumulus Linux as the network operating system running on white box switches. Layer 3 requirements were not met by Nicira NVP nor by software routing vendors who did not understand cloud, said Mark McClain, Akanda CTO.

The second generation of the DreamCompute network include Layer 3 capabilities in VMware NSX, which acquired Nicira, renamed the NVP product and enhanced it. But in a bake-off with the Astara open source network orchestration service for OpenStack – which was developed by DreamHost — Astara comes out on top and, with some enhancements, allows DreamCompute to scale to over 1,000 customers and thousands of VMs.

“Honestly, we expected Astara to lose this challenge,” states Jonathan LaCour, DreamHost vice president of cloud and development, in his blog. “However, Astara absolutely came out victorious, offering a significantly better experience and more reliability.”

In the third generation of the DreamCompute infrastructure, NSX was found to have scale limitations of 1,250 tenants. Open vSwitch was slow and unstable, and the software was difficult to debug and operate, the presenters said. As a result, NSX was replaced for Layer 2 isolation by hardware accelerated VXLAN in the switch and hypervisor, and by Astara for Layer 3-7 service orchestration.

Cumulus Linux remained as the physical underlay for the DreamCompute network.

Astara virtual network appliances allowed for easy scale, while VXLAN tunnels scaled “massively,” presenters said. Astara also simplified OpenStack Neutron networking deployments by requiring fewer Layer 2, DHCP and advanced services agents, and is generally easier to operate because it, VXLAN and the Linux networking stack on DreamCompute switches are “open” and familiar, presenters said.

“As far as performance and scale, DreamCompute is breaking through those limits we met with VMWare NSX,” LaCour states in his blog. “This is largely due to reductions in complexity, thanks to management and automation through OpenStack and Astara.”

VMware wouldn’t comment specifically on the DreamHost project but through a spokesperson said it is “very happy with the success” NSX has had in some of the largest OpenStack environments in the world, “as well as our track record in open networking through things like the Open vSwitch project.”

DreamHost’s project mirrors that of other cloud and Webscale providers, like Google and Facebook, that have opted to develop their own networking solutions to overcome the limitations of commercial offerings, and reduce capex and opex. That open source provides such a significant capex improvement over commercial products should perhaps come as no surprise.

But the opex reduction might be the proof point that familiar open source code, customized for specific operator requirements, is just as capable – if not more so – than commercially available, vendor-integrated products.

Red Hat covers cloud apps with OpenStack and Cloud Suite

Red Hat’s latest OpenStack Platform release wraps up the cloud for easier deployment, but Cloud Suite will likely claim a broader audience

With its two latest releases, Red Hat makes good on its previously stated plans to extend open source out of the data center and across the entire dev stack.

Red Hat OpenStack Platform 8 and Red Hat Cloud Suite provide contrasting methodologies for building and delivering hybrid cloud apps on open source infrastructure. Cloud Suite is an all-in-one package of Red Hat’s cloud technologies. OpenStack Platform, meanwhile, adds value and ease of use with both Red Hat and third-party hardware.

Making the hard part easy

OpenStack is complicated to deploy and maintain, so Red Hat and other third-party vendors tout ease of use and management as selling points. As Matt Asay pointed out, Red Hat’s mainstay is to simplify complex technology (like open source infrastructure apps) for enterprise settings.

Red Hat’s previous incarnations of OpenStack were built with this philosophy in mind, and the current version ramps it up. Upgrading OpenStack components, long regarded as thorny and difficult, is handled automatically by Red Hat’s add-ons. CloudForms, Red Hat’s management tool for clouds, comes as part of the bundle, providing yet another option to offset OpenStack’s management complexities.

OpenStack has been trying to solve these problems as well, as shown with its most recent version, code-named Mitaka. It features tools like a unified command line and a more streamlined setup process with sane defaults. But Red Hat’s OpenStack uses the previous Liberty release, so it will be at least another release cycle before the changes find their way into Red Hat’s work.

Red Hat also has been trying to sweeten OpenStack’s pot via a strategy explored by several other OpenStack vendors: hardware solutions. Red Hat and Dell have previously partnered to sell the former’s OpenStack solutions on the latter’s hardware. Thelatest generation of that partnership provides yet another means of putting OpenStack into more hands: the On-Ramp to OpenStack program.

All of this is meant to broaden OpenStack’s appeal and to make it more than the do-it-yourself cloud favored by a few large companies and telcos. (OpenStack Platform 8 has “telco-focused preview” features.) As Asay noted, while individual OpenStack customers are large, the overall field remains smally because for many enterprise customers, OpenStack looks like too much of a solution for not enough of a problem. That didn’t start with Red Hat, and so far it’s unlikely Red Hat alone can change that.

A three-piece Suite

For that reason, Red Hat isn’t depending on OpenStack alone, as its second big release today, Red Hat Cloud Suite, shows. It’s aimed at a broader, and likely more rewarding, market: Those building cloud applications with containers and who want to concentrate on app lifecycle rather than the deployment infrastructure.

Cloud Suite also uses OpenStack, but as a substrate managed through Red Hat’s CloudForms software. On top of that is the part users will deal with most directly: Red Hat’s OpenShift PaaS for managing containerized applications in Docker. (OpenShift got high marks from InfoWorld’s Martin Heller for being “robust, easy-to-use, and highly scalable.”)

CloudForms treats OpenStack as one of many possible cloud layers that can be abstracted away. To that end, the apps deployed on OpenShift can run in multiple places — local and remote OpenStack clouds, Azure clouds, and so on. This part of Red Hat’s strategy for hybrid cloud echoes Google’s ambitions, in that it allows the user to work with open source software and open standards to deploy apps to both local and remote clouds.

OpenStack was regarded as the original method to pull that off. While Red Hat hasn’t abandoned OpenStack, its focus remains narrow. Cloud Suite, due to its flexibility and emphasis on applications rather than infrastructure, seems likely to draw a broader crowd.