Trend: The momentum generated by Cloud, and more specifically OpenStack, has gained the interest of IT leadership due to the premise of being built on an open standards platform and the promise of significantly reduced licensing fees in the data center. OpenStack nomenclature however can be confusing to the uninitiated and downright a second language to the average CXO. OpenStack likes to use code names for each release and a specific taxonomy the specific services offered. As of April 2014, we are on the IceHouse release replacing the Havana release with Juno due in October. It’s not about logic here.
Define: OpenStack is to Cloud as Linux is to enterprise Operating System. Where in the past you had Microsoft, UNIX, AIX, SOLARIS, HP/UX plus a few other OS’s; today only Microsoft and LINUX survive and thrive. In Cloud OS, you have a choice of three: Microsoft, VMware, and OpenStack (CloudStack is dead – sorry). This is not to imply that OpenStack is as mature as Microsoft or VMware. OpenStack is rapidly maturing and is reaching the point of leading edge adoption, but not yet in the mainstream of enterprise adoption.
Services: OpenStack can be viewed by the services that it runs. The three main services include Compute, Networking, and Storage (see OpenStack diagram below). These services are often referred to by their taxonomy which includes: Compute (Nova), Networking (Neutron), and Storage (Swift – Object Storage and Cinder – Block Storage).
Compute (Nova) provides the compute space where your applications will be developed, provisioned and run. This allows you to provision and manage large networks of virtual machines and ramp up more VM’s as necessary to manage increased workload use.
Networking (Neutron) manages networks and IP addresses and ensures that the network will not be the bottleneck or limiting factor in a cloud deployment. Spinning up compute clusters require an intelligent network that can actively adapt to your dynamic compute environment.
OpenStack utilizes a slightly different method of storing data; Block (Cinder) and Object (Swift). Block based storage is utilized for performance sensitive scenarios (databases) while Object storage replaces the tradition file storage system with a more robust, distributed storage system.
The Dashboard (Horizon) provides administrators and users a graphical interface to access, provision and automate cloud-based resources.
Final Note: OpenStack will quickly become a significant option in the Cloud space. The IT industry has adopted open standards into their data centers and OpenStack could potentially displace one of the other two Cloud OS over time as was the case with LINUX. It is still considered a leading edge technology but will quickly approach mainstream adoption as companies like Intel and Boeing integrate OpenStack into their data center model.