53 new things to look for in OpenStack Newton (plus a few more)

OpenStack Newton, the technology’s 14th release, shows just how far we’ve come: where we used to focus on basic things, such as supporting specific hypervisors or enabling basic SDN capabilities, now that’s a given, and we’re talking about how OpenStack has reached its goal of supporting cloud-native applications in all of their forms — virtual machines, containers, and bare metal.

There are hundreds of changes and new features in OpenStack Newton, and you can see some of the most important in our What’s New in OpenStack Newton webinar.  Meanwhile, as we do with each release, let’s take a look at 53 things that are new in OpenStack Newton.

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Compute (Nova)

  1. Get me a network enables users to let OpenStack do the heavy lifting rather than having to understand the underlying networking setup.
  2. A default policy means that users no longer have to provide a full policy file; instead they can provide just those rules that are different from the default.
  3. Mutable config lets you change configuration options for a running Nova service without having to restart it.  (This option is available for a limited number of options, such as debugging, but the framework is in place for this to expand.)
  4. Placement API gives you more visibility into and control over resources such as Resource providers, Inventories, Allocations and Usage records.
  5. Cells v2, which enables you to segregate your data center into sections for easier manageability and scalability,has been revamped and is now feature-complete.

Network (Neutron)

  1. 802.1Q tagged VM connections (VLAN aware VMs) enables VNFs to target specific VMs.
  2. The ability to create VMs without IP Address means you  can create a VM with no IP address and specify complex networking later as a separate process.
  3. Specific pools of external IP addresses let you optimize resource placement by controlling IP decisions.
  4. OSProfiler support lets you find bottlenecks and troubleshoot interoperability issues.
  5. No downtime API service upgrades

Storage (Cinder, Glance, Swift)

Cinder

  1. Microversions let developers can add new features you can access without breaking the main version.
  2. Rolling upgrades let you update to Newton without having to take down the entire cloud.
  3. enabled_backends config option defines which backend types are available for volume creation.
  4. Retype volumes from encrypted to not encrypted, and back again after creation.
  5. Delete volumes with snapshots using the cascade feature rather than having to delete the snapshots first.
  6. The Cinder backup service can now be scaled to multiple instances for better reliability and scalability.

Glance

  1. Glare, the Glance Artifact Repository, provides the ability to store more than just images.
  2. A trust concept for long-lived snapshots makes it possible to avoid errors on long-running operations.
  3. The new restrictive default policy means that all operations are locked down unless you provide access, rather than the other way around.

Swift

  1. Object versioning lets you keep multiple copies of an individual object, and choose whether to keep all versions, or just the most recent.
  2. Object encryption provides some measure of confidentiality should your disk be separated from the cluster.
  3. Concurrent bulk-deletes speed up operations.

Other core projects (Keystone, Horizon)

Keystone

  1. Simplified configuration setup
  2. PCI support of password configuration options
  3. Credentials encrypted at rest

Horizon

  1. You can now exercise more control over user operations with parameters such as IMAGES_ALLOW_LOCATION, TOKEN_DELETE_DISABLED, LAUNCH_INSTANCE_DEFAULTS
  2. Horizon now works if only Keystone is deployed, making it possible to use Horizon to manage a Swift-only deployment.
  3. Horizon now checks for Network IP availability rather than enabling users to set bad configurations.
  4. Be more specific when setting up networking by restricting the CIDR range for a user private network, or specify a fixed IP or subnet when creating a port.
  5. Manage Consistency Groups.

Containers (Magnum, Kolla, Kuryr)

Magnum

  1. Magnum is now more about container orchestration engines (COEs) than containers, and can now deploy Swarm, Kubernetes, and Mesos.
  2. The API service is now protected by SSL.
  3. You can now use Kubernetes on bare metal.
  4. Asynchronous cluster creation improves performance for complex operations.

Kolla

  1. You can now use Kolla to deploy containerized OpenStack to bare metal.

Kuryr

  1. Use Neutron networking capabilities in containers.
  2. Nest VMs through integration with Magnum and Neutron.

Additional projects (Heat, Ceilometer, Fuel, Murano, Ironic, Community App Catalog, Mistral)

Heat

  1. Use DNS resolution and integration with an external DNS.
  2. Access external resources using the external_id attribute.

Ceilometer

  1. New REST API that makes it possible to use services such as Gnocchi rather than just interacting with the database.
  2. Magnum support.

FUEL

  1. Deploy Fuel without having to use an ISO.
  2. Improved life cycle management user experience, including Infrastructure as Code.
  3. Container-based deployment possibilities.

Murano

  1. Use the new Application Development Framework to build more complex applications.
  2. Enable users to deploy your application across multiple regions for better reliability and scalability.
  3. Specify that when resources are no longer needed, they should be deallocated.

Ironic

  1. You can now have multiple nova-compute services using Ironic without causing duplicate entries.
  2. Multi-tenant networking makes it possible for more than one tenant to use ironic without sharing network traffic.
  3. Specify granular access restrictions to the REST API rather than just turning it off or on.

Community App Catalog

  1. The Community App Catalog now uses Glare as its backend, making it possible to more easily store multiple application types.
  2. Use the new v2 API to add and manage assets directly, rather than having to go through gerrit.
  3. Add and manage applications via the Community App Catalog website.

The keys to OpenStack startup success: Platform9 Systems

Startup acquisition and mergers have rocked the OpenStack community over the past year with Blue Box, Piston Cloud Computing, Metacloud and Cloudscaling joining the ranks of IBM, Cisco and EMC respectively.

Superuser is kicking off a startup playbook series highlighting startups in the OpenStack community to discuss tips for fellow newbies in the ecosystem and their perception of the current playing field.

We start with Sirish Raghuram, the CEO and co-founder of Platform9 Systems.

What is the Platform9 origin story?

The Platform9 co-founders are a group of early engineers at VMware. Having architected much of the vSphere product suite, we recognized a massive gulf between the agility and programmability of infrastructure leased from the public cloud and the limited capabilities of infrastructure owned by enterprises.

Enterprise customers wanted to automate infrastructure provisioning and accelerate software development using private clouds, but struggled with the complexity of integrating and operationalizing the required solutions.

The genesis for Platform9 was when we realized that the integration and operational complexity of private clouds was the key unsolved problem. As we designed our OpenStack-as-a-Service solution, it almost magically eliminated a lot of the associated complexity. And so we named the company after Platform 9 ¾ (from Harry Potter), because the “cloud managed service” felt like that magical gateway to a beautiful new paradigm.

In August, Platform9 Systems raised $10 million USD in Series B funding. What does the round of funding enable Platform9 to do?

Broadly, the additional funding enables us to accelerate our product roadmap and scale the business to acquire and support a larger customer base.

To date, we’ve announced and delivered support for both KVM and vSphere (ESXi) as fully supported hypervisors, and have seen significant demand based on current feature sets. But there are additional features coming that we know will open up even more opportunities, including more enterprise-centric features, support for containers, and even more out-of-the-box integrations with enterprise storage and network solutions.The funding gives us the backing to grow the company by an order of magnitude.

What challenges has Platform9 overcome to be successful?

When we started out (and even today) OpenStack was generally considered extremely complex. The complexity arises because OpenStack supports such a large feature-set, which needs to be integrated with enterprise environments that can also vary widely: different networking setups, storage configurations, deployment considerations, etc. So, it was definitely a steep technology challenge to harness all the power of OpenStack and compress it into a five-minute, SaaS-like on boarding experience, with a full 24/7 service-level agreement from the moment customers onboard.

There is also a marketing challenge: OpenStack supports such a large variety of use cases that customers can lose sight of the core benefits. We’ve simplified the use cases and focus on the core benefits the framework provides to enterprise customers. The payoff for this extreme focus is a great product experience for our customers.

Our approach to these two challenges has been different from other OpenStack vendors, but it has worked very well for us.

What tips would you have for a new startups in the OpenStack ecosystem?

My top advice would be to be laser focused on a core set of use cases, and build a product experience that delivers 100 percent to that core and nurture customer relationships around that core. As a startup, you don’t have a lot of resources and a lot of time in the sales cycle; focus and making the right tradeoffs is what makes the difference between success and failure.

The other point that I think is extremely important and often missed: stay close to OpenStack’s principles. This includes:

  1. Stay aligned to the core release schedule and define an upgrade schedule that matches the guidelines laid down by the Foundation. Customers are interested in OpenStack; respect that they want to stay aligned to the core.
  2. Focus on interoperability: one of OpenStack’s biggest attractions is that it serves as an open, community-driven interconnect between datacenter technologies. Customers want every solution in this framework to interoperate well with others.

OpenStack has been called both good and bad for startups – what do you see as the pros and cons?

I think the advantages hugely outweigh the disadvantages:

Almost every enterprise IT leader is interested in OpenStack. If a startup is supporting use cases in a manner that aligns with OpenStack’s roadmap, doors will open to the enterprise IT market. There is a massive marketing channel that the foundation has enabled: the OpenStack marketplace, Summits and Meetups are all great ways to find and nurture customer relationships. Partnering with technology vendors and channel partners in the OpenStack space can also fuel your go-to-market strategy.

On the downside, startups do need to focus on core competencies and specific problems, otherwise they risk getting lost in the marketplace given the extensive participation from larger vendors.

What differentiates Platform9’s product from other companies’ products in the marketplace?

There are three big advantages that Platform9 Managed OpenStack provides:

Simplicity. Platform9 is OpenStack made easy. Since we deliver OpenStack as a cloud-managed-service, customers can rely on Platform9 for 24/7 monitoring, troubleshooting, upgrades of OpenStack. Platform9 owns and delivers the SLA, and our customers can go to production in minutes after onboarding.

Choice. Platform9 is hardware and platform agnostic, supporting any hardware (compute, storage, network) and any hypervisor (KVM, VMware vSphere). Support for Docker is coming soon as well

Interoperability. Platform9 discovers and interoperates very well with existing environments. Not only does this accelerate the process of getting started, it also allows IT admins to continue to use familiar existing tools and platform-specific workflows without conflicting with OpenStack’s orchestration of that environment. For example, with Platform9 VMware admins can continue to perform operations using vCenter even as OpenStack orchestrates that same vSphere environment.

What is the most common request from Platform9 customers?

VMware (vSphere / ESXi) integration was by far the number one request, and we recently made that integration generally available.

Customers also ask us about support for Hyper-V, Docker and even Amazon Web Services. All of those integrations make a lot of sense, and these requests validate how broad the market interest truly is in OpenStack.

To learn more about Platform9 Systems origin story and how it fits into the OpenStack ecosystem, check out the Superuser TV interview with Roopak Parikh, co-founder and head of engineering.