Sunday, July 26, 2015

OpenStack is now one more step closer to "enterprise" ready

In the month of July, groups around the world the world are celebrating the 5 year birthday of OpenStack. They are giving out  t-shirts to commemorate this event along with birthday cakes and champagne (each group is celebrating a little bit differently). 

OpenStack started in 2010 with is first release named as Austin.  Eric Wright (@discoposse) had a nice post on OpenStack Kilo release and have a detailed description of some interesting statistics about OpenStack as well as some of OpenStack's latest feature.

OpenStack came a long way in these 5 years and is starting to gain more and more attention as a solution to business needs.  Last OpenStack summit in Vancouver there were over 6,000 attendees.  New features in respond to the market needs were being added in a high pace.  While OpenStack is feature rich and is delivering these features in a fast pace with 2 releases per year, one question there is always one question in mind - 
 Is OpenStack enterprise ready?"

Essential "enterprise" features
I think the top 2 essential enterprise features are:
  1. High Availability
  2. Security
High Availability
One important aspect for enterprise is to sustain continuous business operation.  To look at a product if it is enterprise ready we must look at what level of HA it is able to deliver.  Different business have different requirement for the level of HA a product can provide. If we look at that OpenStack web site, it stated that OpenStack is able to offer 99.99% of uptime for the infrastructure. But if we read on, it stated that OpenStack does not guarantee 99.99% availability for individual guest instances.  Well it does not mean that OpenStack is NOT enterprise ready.  At least the OpenStack is guaranteed to have 99.99% of uptime.  If this cannot be achieved, then we can forget about the 99.99% of the individual guest instances.

Vendor specific build-in HA features
There are a few ways that we can take advantage of the existing and proven high availability feature provided by vendors such as:
  1. Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 - Pacemaker
  2. Ubuntu 14.04 - High Availability Cluster solutions
  3. SUSE Linux Enterprise High Availability
  4. VMware vSphere infrastructure 
Another development in OpenStack is project Magnum where OpenStack interacts with Kubernetes to orchestrate the deployment of groups of containers as a Pod and there is the replication controller in Kubernetes that user can defined the desired state of the Pod in such a way that if container dies, the Replication Controller is going to re-create the Pod defined by the user.
image source:

Another important aspect for enterprise is security.  OpenStack has a project called Keystone that handles the security of the infrastructure.  One feature for Keystone is that it can use Active Directory as a backend server and this allows OpenStack to use the existing and widely used Active Directory.  This is helping OpenStack to be enterprise ready.

Interaction within the various element of the OpenStack infrastructure is via RESTful API.  Each entity will have to request a security token for each API call so that the target entity can validate if the initiator of the API call has the proper credential and privilege to request the operation.

OpenStack has a dedicated security team to look at the security of the OpenStack infrastructure.  Each commit to the OpenStack code base has a keyword SecurityImpact that the commiter can use to flag the security team to investigate if that particular commit has any security impact to OpenStack.

With all these features in place, more and more companies are willing to deploy OpenStack in the production environment.  This is a sample of companies that are deploying OpenStack in their production environment (just showing some examples and is not a complete list):

image source: 

Within the last few days there are 2 new development that helped move OpenStack closer to be "enterprise" ready.

Google becoming a sponsor to OpenStack Foundation
On July 16, Google announced that it is becoming a sponsor to the OpenStack Foundation along with “big” companies such as IBM, Red Hat, Ubuntu or VMware support this open source cloud infrastructure.  I had a blog post on my reaction to Google’s announcement.

The significant of Google sponsoring OpenStack Foundation is twofold.  The first one is that Google is in a way endorsing this technology.  The second one is what its knowledge, expertise and experience on deploying container at scale to make OpenStack able to deploy container as well as virtual machine in it infrastructure.

OpenStack Innovation Center
On July 23, there is another OpenStack announcement that is worth looking into and I believe is as important as the Google announcement. This important announcement is that Rackspace and Intel is collaborating to form an OpenStack Innovation Center.  According to the press release the purpose of this OpenStack Innovation Center is to help accelerate the development of enterprise capabilities and thus driving the adoption of OpenStack in the enterprise production environment.

The agreement between Rackspace and Intel includes:
  • OpenStack Innovation Center – The center will create the world’s largest OpenStack development team. It will be comprised of Rackspace and Intel engineers and will be located at Rackspace’s corporate headquarters in San Antonio.
  • OpenStack Developer Training – Through this effort, Rackspace and Intel will offer new modules of courseware designed to onboard and increase the number of open source developers actively contributing to the success of the community.
  • Joint OpenStack Engineering – Rackspace and Intel will resource OpenStack development, working in collaboration with the OpenStack Enterprise Work Group and community, targeting bug elimination and the development of new enterprise features. The companies will recruit new engineers to participate in OpenStack development.
  • Largest OpenStack Developer Cloud– Rackspace and Intel will build and make available to the community two 1,000 node clusters to support advanced, large-scale testing of OpenStack and new features developed through the joint engineering work. The companies anticipate having the clusters available for community use within the next six months.
One good news for me as a software developer on this collaboration between Rackspace and Intel is that there will be a two 1,000-node OpenStack hybrid cloud clusters that will be made available to the OpenStack community to look a issues regarding scaling and performance.

What is next?
Wonder what is in the horizon for more enterprise features in OpenStack.  I had a conversation with a person that is in the OpenStack community and he was saying that there will be a lot more exciting announcements in the upcoming OpenStack Tokyo summit and in the OpenStack Austin summit next year. 

"Accelerating the Enterprise Features of OpenStack: Rackspace and Intel Form the OpenStack Innovation Center." Rackspace Hosting. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 July 2015.


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