OpenStack’s latest release focuses on scalability and resilience

OpenStack, the massive open source project that helps enterprises run the equivalent of AWS in their own data centers, is launching the 14th major version of its software today. Newton, as this new version is called, shows how OpenStack has matured over the last few years. The focus this time is on making some of the core OpenStack services more scalable and resilient. In addition, though, the update also includes a couple of major new features. The project now better supports containers and bare metal servers, for example.

In total, more than 2,500 developers and users contributed to Newton. That gives you a pretty good sense of the scale of this project, which includes support for core data center services like compute, storage and networking, but also a wide range of smaller projects.

As OpenStack Foundation COO Mark Collier told me, the focus with Newton wasn’t so much on new features but on adding tools for supporting new kinds of workloads.

Both Collier and OpenStack Foundation executive director Jonathan Bryce stressed that OpenStack is mostly about providing the infrastructure that people need to run their workloads. The project itself is somewhat agnostic as to what workloads they want to run and which tools they want to use, though. “People aren’t looking at the cloud as synonymous with [virtual machines] anymore,” Collier said. Instead, they are mixing in bare metal and containers as well. OpenStack wants to give these users a single control plane to manage all of this.

Enterprises do tend to move slowly, though, and even the early adopters that use OpenStack are only now starting to adopt containers. “We see people who are early adopters who are running container in production,” Bryce told me. “But I think OpenStack or not OpenStack, it’s still early for containers in production usage.” He did note, however, that he is regularly talks to enterprise users who are looking at how they can use the different components in OpenStack to get to containers faster. 

Core features of OpenStack, including the Nova compute service, as well as the Horizon dashboard and Swift object/blob store, have now become more scalable. The Magnum project for managing containers on OpenStack, which already supported Docker Swarm, Kubernetes and Mesos, now also allows operators to run Kubernetes clusters on bare metal servers, while the Ironic framework for provisioning those bare metal servers is now more tightly integrated with Magnuma and also now supports multi-tenant networking.

The release also includes plenty of other updates and tweaks, of course. You can find a full (and fully overwhelming) rundown of what’s new in all of the different projects here.

With this release out of the door, the OpenStack community is now looking ahead to the next release six months form now. This next release will go through its planning stages at the upcoming OpenStack Summit in Barcelona later this month and will then become generally available next February.

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.

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.


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.