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OpenStack gains in maturity and popularity

Posted by sjvn01 in CIO Engage on Apr 18, 2013 3:06:04 PM

No, it's not your imagination. You have been hearing more and more about OpenStack in recent weeks and you're only going to be hearing a lot more as time goes by.


First, for those of you who haven't met it yet, OpenStack is an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) cloud computing open-source software stack. It's made up of seven core components: Compute, Object Storage, Identity, Dashboard, Block Storage, Network and Image Service. Put them together and you have everything you need to run a public or private IaaS cloud on Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS).


Of course, I could rattle off a whole laundry list of other IaaS cloud software stacks, but OpenStack is getting a lot of ink from the technology and business press recently. There are several reasons it's getting so much attention.


At the top of the list, of course, is that OpenStack recently released a new version of its software stack, Grizzly. And as Forrester Research's principal analyst for infrastructure and operations, James Staten, recently pointed out, with this release "Cisco, Red Hat, Rackspace, IBM, Intel, HP, and many other traditional enterprise suppliers concentrated much of their efforts over the past six months to hardening OpenStack and ensuring it would deliver against enterprise expectations and requirements."


As Citigroup software analyst Walter Pritchard said in a note to clients, "In three short years, the open source OpenStack initiative has reached broad-based industry support towards an ambitious goal of providing a complete cloud-based infrastructure offering… there is simply too much momentum behind OpenStack development for the base case to not be at least moderate success.”


It looks like businesses agree. In the last few days, we've seen one OpenStack announcement after another. Certainly some of that was because of the OpenStack Summit. Every trade show brings its share of "news." What was important this time was that so many of these announcements were significant rather than just trying to gain a quick headline.


From my viewpoint, here were the most important news items.


Intel CIO Kim Stevenson dropped that as far as Intel is concerned, "OpenStack enables Intel to use multiple providers and avoid lock-in." Since many end-users are, understandably, concerned about being locked into a particular vendor that's not a small matter.


Red Hat, which has made it clear after several false cloud starts that OpenStack is its cloud of choice going forward, has moved its Red Hat OpenStack offering into an Early Adopter Program. At the same time, Red Hat has released a free "as in beer" version, RDO, for companies to try OpenStack. RDO, is a community-supported distribution of OpenStack that runs on Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), Fedora, and related Linux operating systems. Red Hat states that this "offers a pure upstream OpenStack experience with the latest stable release from, packaged, integrated and easy to deploy on Red Hat platforms."


At the same time, Canonical, Ubuntu Linux's parent company, and VMware (of all companies!) have announced that they're releasing Ubuntu's take on OpenStack with support for VMware vSphere and Nicira NVP. In a statement, Joshua Goodman, VMware's VP of vSphere, said "Canonical's Ubuntu technology is widely used by those deploying OpenStack, and joint customers will be able to leverage the familiar and proven capabilities of the vSphere infrastructure in which they've already invested."


Nebula, which is headed by one of OpenStack's founders, offers a hardware component, Nebula One, for would-be OpenStack users. The company claims that its core piece, the Nebula Cloud Controller, enables customers to plug and play Dell, HP and IBM servers into a scalable OpenStack cloud system.


Put it all together and you get a compelling case for OpenStack. There are certainly other IaaS solutions out there, but at this point you'd be foolish to at least not consider one OpenStack package or another for your IaaS cloud deployment.


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