OpenStack is an open source infrastructure as a service (IaaS) initiative for creating and managing large groups of virtual private servers in a data center.

openstackThe goals of the OpenStack initiative are to support interoperability between cloud services and allow businesses to build Amazon-like cloud services in their own data centers. OpenStack, which is freely available under the Apache 2.0 license, is often referred to in the media as “the Linux of the Cloud” and is compared to Eucalyptus and the Apache CloudStack project, two other open source cloud initiatives.

OpenStack has a modular architecture that currently has eleven components:

Nova – provides virtual machines (VMs) upon demand.

Swift – provides a scalable storage system that supports object storage.

Cinder – provides persistent block storage to guest VMs.

Glance – provides a catalog and repository for virtual disk images.

Keystone – provides authentication and authorization for all the OpenStack services.

Horizon – provides a modular web-based user interface (UI) for OpenStack services.

Neutron – provides network connectivity-as-a-service between interface devices managed by OpenStack services.

Ceilometer – provides a single point of contact for billing systems.

Heat – provides orchestration services for multiple composite cloud applications.

Trove – provides database-as-a-service provisioning for relational and non-relational database engines.

Sahara – provides data processing services for OpenStack-managed resources.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) worked with Rackspace, a managed hosting and cloud computing service provider, to develop OpenStack. RackSpace donated the code that powers its storage and content delivery service (Cloud Files) and production servers (Cloud Servers). NASA contributed the technology that powers Nebula, their high performance computing, networking and data storage cloud service that allows researchers to work with large scientific data sets.

OpenStack officially became an independent non-profit organization in September 2012. The OpenStack community, which is overseen by a board of directors, is comprised of many direct and indirect competitors, including IBM, Intel and VMware.

Red Hat covers cloud apps with OpenStack and Cloud Suite

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. The latest 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.

Early OpenStack contributor says cloud project has ‘lost its heart’

It started with a Tweet last week from Joshua McKenty: “OpenStack has lost its heart. Last summit I will attend.”

That’s somewhat shocking to read if you consider that McKenty helped found the open source cloud computing project, built a startup company that sold OpenStack cloud software and formerly sat on the board of directors of the Foundation that governs OpenStack.

+MORE AT NETWORK WORLD: Status check on OpenStack: The open source cloud has arrived +

How exactly has OpenStack “lost its heart?” McKenty explained: “When we started this project it was about trying to create a new open source community,” he says.

As OpenStack has grown he says its turned into a corporate open source project, not a community-driven one. He spent a day walking around the show-floor at the recent OpenStack Summit in Vancouver and said he didn’t find anyone talking about the original mission of the project. “Everyone’s talking about who’s making money, who’s career is advancing, how much people get paid, how many workloads are in production,” McKenty says. “The mission was to do things differently.”

McKenty admits that it’s hard to keep a small-community feel to a project that has grown to be as large as OpenStack. It started with just Rackspace and NASA committing code, now it has now grown to more than 500 contributing companies, from IBM, Red Hat, Cisco, HP and even VMware.

McKenty says the commercial success of OpenStack is good for customers and those companies. But he believes OpenStack has lost its mission of changing the world through open source. Now, he says it’s mostly about big companies looking to make money off of it. McKenty has left the startup he founded, Piston Cloud Computing Co. to join another small but fast-growing open source project: Cloud Foundry; he works as the Field CTO for Pivotal, one of the main backers of that PaaS (platform as a service) project.

Others in the OpenStack community say McKenty has a jaded perspective. “OpenStack exists because of the company that make it up, and companies need to make money,” says Randy Bias, an OpenStack Foundation board member and another one of the earliest contributors to OpenStack. Bias says without the support of companies like Rackspace, Dell, HP and many others the project never would have existed and grown into what it is today. “OpenStack was never a movement to change the world,” Bias says, whose startup company Cloudscaling was bought by EMC last year. The project is not made up of purely philanthropic companies with only altruistic motives. The reality is, companies joined OpenStack to make money.

As for the fact that OpenStack is no longer a small organization with a grassroots-type feel to it, Bias says that it’s almost impossible to have that and be a successful to a large community with so many members.

OpenStack simplifies management with Mitaka release

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

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.

7 new OpenStack guides and tips

Learning how to deploy and maintain OpenStack can be difficult, even for seasoned IT professionals. The number of things you must keep up with seems to grow every day.

Fortunately, there are tons of resources out there to help you along the way, whether you are a beginner or a cloud guru. Between the official documentation, IRC channels, books, and a number of training options available to you, as well as the number of community-created OpenStack tutorials, help is never too far away.

On, every month we take a look back at the best tips, tricks, and tutorials published to the web to bring you some of the most useful. Here are some of the best guides and hints we found last month.

  • First up, let’s take a look at TripleO, an OpenStack deployment tool. Adam Young takes us through the basic steps of his experimentation with getting started with TripleO, by deploying RDO on CentOS 7.1.
  • If you’re looking to deploy applications on top of OpenStack, it can help to have some simple examples at hand. Why not take a look at some simple Heat templates? Cloudwatt gives us new examples this month includingMediaWiki, Minecraft, and Zabbix.
  • If you work in OpenStack development, you know that it can be difficult to reproduce bugs. OpenStack has so many moving parts that replicating the exact circumstances that produced your error can be a non-trivial task. In this blog post, learn some best practices in debugging hard-to-find test failures through an example with Glance.
  • Next, explore a new feature from the Liberty release designed to make it easier to share Neutron networking resources between projects and tenants in an OpenStack deployment, Role Based Access Controls (RBAC). Learn the basic commands necessary to manage RBAC policies and how to set up basic controls in your cloud deployment.
  • Another new feature of the Liberty release is on the storage side: the ability to back up in-use volumes in Cinder. In this short article, learn more about how the procedure works and how Cinder manages the process.
  • Also relatively new, from the Kilo release, is the introduction of ML2 port security into Neutron, a useful feature for Network Functions Virtualization. To learn more about how ML2 port security works and how to enable it, see thisshort walkthrough from Kimi Zhang.
  • Finally, for anyone trying to work out bugs in Neutron network creation using pdb (the Python debugger), this quick step-by-step post from Arie Bregman will get you past some common issues.

Looking for more? Be sure to check out our OpenStack tutorials collection for over a hundred additional resources. And if you’ve got another suggestion which ought to be on our next list, be sure to let us know in the comments.

An Austin summit preview, new survey results, and more OpenStack news

Interested in keeping track of what is happening in the open source cloud? is your source for news in OpenStack, the open source cloud infrastructure project.

OpenStack around the web

There’s a lot of interesting stuff being written about OpenStack. Here’s a sampling:

OpenStack discussions

Here’s a sample of some of the most active discussions this week on the OpenStack developers’ listserv. For a more in-depth look, why not dive in yourself?

A compilation of 7 new OpenStack tutorials

Getting started, learning more, or even just finding the solution to your particular problem within the OpenStack universe can be quite an undertaking. Whether you’re a developer or an operator, it can be hard to keep up with the rapid pace of development of various OpenStack projects and how to use them. The good news is that there are a number of resources to help you out, including the official documentation, a number of third-party OpenStack certification and training programs, and community-authored tutorials.

Here at, every month we put together a list of the best tutorials, how-tos, guides, and tips to help you keep up with what’s going in OpenStack. Check out our favorites from this month.

  • If you’ve ever used ownCloud as a file sharing solution, either personally or for your company, you know just how versatile it is in terms of setting up storage backends. Did you know that among those options is the OpenStack Swift object storage platform? Learn how to setup ownCloud to work with OpenStack Swift in this simple tutorial.
  • Just getting started with exploring OpenStack, and want to make a go at installing it locally? Here’s a quick guide to setting up Devstack in a virtual machine, along with getting the Horizon dashboard working so that you can have a visual interface with your test cloud.
  • Ready to take the next step and install OpenStack in a server environment? Here’s how to deploy the RDO distribution of OpenStack onto a single server using Ansible.
  • Once you’re running applications in your OpenStack cloud, you need some way to keep track of performance and any issues that pop up on each server. David Wahlstrom takes a look at 6 easy-to-use tools for monitoringapplications on your virtual servers.
  • If you’re an upstream OpenStack developer, you spend a good amount of time on IRC. It’s where both weekly meetings and a lot of casual conversations take place. But we can’t all be online 24/7. Here’s a handy guide from Steve Martinelli about how to set up a ZNC bouncer to keep an eye on IRC conversations when you’re away from your computer.
  • The OpenStack Health dashboard is a quick and easy way to see what’s going on in the OpenStack continuous integration environment. The dashboard makes it easy to see how many jobs are being running in any given time period, and what the failure rate for tests within those jobs are. Learn more about how it works in this explainer article.
  • Even for networking experts, occasional speed bumps happen when managing virtual networks in OpenStack. Arie Bregman takes us throughsome of the most common problems with OpenStack’s Neutron networking project configuration and how to go about troubleshooting and solving the issues.

CoreOS launches Rkt- the container that’s not Docker

CoreOS launches Rkt- the container that’s not Docker

CoreOS container Docker rkt
CoreOS – a 2013 San Francisco startup backed by Google Ventures and $20 million in funding – is offering an alternative to the wildly popular Docker application container runtime that is sweeping the market.
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Alex Polvi, CEO of CoreOS, says the company has developed a more security-conscious way to run application containers compared to Docker, which they call rkt. CoreOS released the 1.0 general availability open source release of rkt on Thursday.

+MORE AT NETWORK WORLD: Open Networking User Group looks to reign in the ‘Wild West’ of hybrid cloud computing | Take Microsoft’s underwater data center with a grain of salt +

“The way we approach open source software is that we build modular components,” says Polvi, who before starting CoreOS ran Rackspace’s Bay Area product team. Rkt is one of those components. To understand CoreOS, it’s helpful to understand where rkt fits in CoreOS’s broader offerings.

The company started by developing CoreOS – a Linux-based operating system meant for the new world of distributed computing. As application containers took off, Polvi and his team were less than impressed with some of the design decisions made by Docker, which has been the dominant container company.
alex polvi CoreOS container rkt

Alex Polvi, founder and CEO of CoreOS

So, CoreOS began developing rkt. It’s different from Docker in a couple of different ways. For example, Docker uses a daemon architecture that provides root access to Linux. Poliv says that’s not such a good idea: If Docker is downloading container images from the Internet, there should be some buffer between images downloaded and the container runtime in case one of those images is nefarious. Rkt, on the other hand, downloads the container image, but there’s a separate process for executing it. Polvi says CoreOS is “borrowing decades of Unix best practices” to make rkt.

The broader point here is that CoreOS is trying to provide a market alternative for Docker’s application container runtime. Is it more secure? Well, many customers have found secure ways to run Docker, so it’s not like Docker is not safe. But a market of options is good.

CoreOS has other projects too. In addition to the aforementioned CoreOS Linux operating system, the company also sells a packaged distribution of CoreOS, rkt and the open source container orchestrator Kubernetes. That package is named Tectonic. CoreOS has a container image library it sells too.

Containers continue to be a hot topic in application development and infrastructure management, expect to hear more about CoreOS vs. Docker.

SDN shifts from configuration to analytics


analytics statistics stats charting big dataTwo SDN vendors have enhanced their offerings to improve visibility into virtual networks.

Midokura this week unveiled an upgrade of its Midokura Enterprise MidoNet (MEM) network virtualization software to provide visibility into encapsulated traffic in OpenStack clouds. And Pluribus Networks rolled out software designed to provide an operational view of the data center network for insight into application performance and troubleshooting, and enhancing forensic analysis and security.

The introduction of these products is an indications that SDN and network virtualization is going beyond ease, speed and flexibility of configuration and into operational insight for optimal application performance and quality of service.

Midokura’s MEM 5.0, targeted at Infrastructure-as-a-Service clouds, features enhanced operational tools for OpenStack operators. Among its new features are analytics and visualization that communicate details of the state of the virtual network for any operational task, Midokura says.

OpenStack operators can view flow history through physical hosts, and virtual routers and bridges for troubleshooting and network performance evaluation. Usage reports provide cloud operators with visibility into network consumption ranked by highest tenant usage for showback or chargeback requirements.

Traffic counters provide operators with the ability to monitor bandwidth and examine the load on virtual objects in real-time. This is useful for operators to identify bandwidth abuse and proactively address issues that may affect network performance, Midokura says.

MEM 5.0 also includes port mirroring for virtual network monitoring and anomaly detection. Operators can mirror ports, bridges and routers, and output onto a deep-packet inspection firewall or intrusion detection system.

MEM 5.0 can also implement VM- and container-level security policies, and provision distributed network services that are fault tolerant, Midokura says.

MEM 5.0 is available now. Midokura’s customers include Blue Jeans Network, Dell, Colt Technologies and

Pluribus is also offering flow-based operational views of the data center network with its VCF Insight Analytics application. Like MEM 5.0, VCF-IA is also designed for application-level visibility and insight to improve performance.

VCF–IA is available in two configurations, a stand-alone application on a server or an offering bundled with the Pluribus F64 collector appliance. The standalone application leverages APIs in the Pluribus Netvisor switch OS to extract the time-series metadata associated with every flow in progress throughout the entire fabric, and stores these in a data repository for future analysis.

VCF-IA includes a real-time analytics engine and drill-down navigation to allow any particular type of flow or individual event to be located and studied, Pluribus says.

When coupled with a Pluribus F64 collector, the application allows traffic from up to 64 10Gbps span/mirror ports to be captured and then converted into connections and flows for analysis.

Pluribus VCF-IA is available now as a perpetual or subscription-based offering

Rackspace to resell PLUMgrid OpenStack SDN

SDN start-up PLUMgrid received a major endorsement from an OpenStack pioneer this week with a worldwide resale agreement with cloud provider Rackspace.

Rackspace will resell PLUMgrid’s full SDN product line, including its Open Networking Suite for OpenStack, CloudApex, and support and training services. The agreement is non-exclusive, meaning Rackspace also has the option to resell SDN products from PLUMgrid competitors, and PLUMgrid can sell through other cloud providers.


But Rackspace does not have a “NASCAR line-up of 10 SDN partners” that it resells product from, says Bryan Thompson, senior director of product at Rackspace.

“Our strategy is not to partner broadly,” Thompson says.

Rackspace evaluated three or four SDN vendors before choosing PLUMgrid, he says.

“The others were just offensive in how they integrated with OpenStack,” Thompson says.

PLUMgrid CEO Larry Lang says his company is partnering with “the Godfather of OpenStack.” Rackspace is a founder of the OpenStack initiative.

“A good wedding is great but you have to make sure it’s an excellent marriage,” Lang said of the new resale arrangement.

PLUMgrid’s products have been validated to run with Rackspace’s Private Cloud powered by OpenStack service. PLUMgrid’s products enable microsegmentation and firewall service insertion through their Virtual Domains feature; distributed and programmable data plane forwarding via IO Visor software; and real-time SDN visualization and monitoring through CloudApex.

PLUMgrid has 70 OpenStack cloud customers. The company’s ONS product also supports Mirantis OpenStack, RDO, Red Hat OpenStack, and Ubuntu OpenStack by Canonical distributions and installers, in addition to the Rackspace private OpenStack cloud service.

PLUMgrid will be demonstrating ONS at next week’s Rackspace::Solve event in New York. The company was founded in 2011 by ex-Cisco engineers.

This story, “Rackspace to resell PLUMgrid OpenStack SDN” was originally published by Network World.

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