OpenStack is a free and open-source software platform for cloud computing, mostly deployed as infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), whereby virtual servers and other resources are made available to customers. The software platform consists of interrelated components that control diverse, multi-vendor hardware pools of processing, storage, and networking resources throughout a data center. Users either manage it through a web-based dashboard, through command-line tools, or through RESTful web services.
|Initial release||21 October 2010|
|License||Apache License 2.0|
OpenStack began in 2010 as a joint project of Rackspace Hosting and NASA. As of 2012, it is managed by the OpenStack Foundation, a non-profit corporate entity established in September 2012 to promote OpenStack software and its community. More than 500 companies have joined the project.
In July 2010, Rackspace Hosting and NASA jointly launched an open-source cloud-software initiative known as OpenStack. The mission statement was "to produce the ubiquitous Open Source Cloud Computing platform that will meet the needs of public and private clouds regardless of size, by being simple to implement and massively scalable".
The OpenStack project intended to help organizations offer cloud-computing services running on standard hardware. The community's first official release, code-named Austin, appeared three months later on 21 October 2010, with plans to release regular updates of the software every few months. The early code came from NASA's Nebula platform as well as from Rackspace's Cloud Files platform. The original cloud architecture was designed by the NASA Ames Web Manager, Megan A. Eskey, and was a 2009 open source architecture called OpenNASA v2.0. The cloud stack and open stack modules were merged and released as open source by the NASA Nebula team in concert with Rackspace.
In 2011, developers of the Ubuntu Linux distribution adopted OpenStack with an unsupported technology preview of the OpenStack "Bexar" release for Ubuntu 11.04 "Natty Narwhal". Ubuntu's sponsor Canonical then introduced full support for OpenStack clouds, starting with OpenStack's Cactus release.
OpenStack became available in Debian Sid from the Openstack "Cactus" release in 2011, and the first release of Debian including OpenStack was Debian 7.0 (code name "Wheezy"), including OpenStack 2012.1 (code name: "Essex").
In October 2011, SUSE announced the public preview of the industry's first fully configured OpenStack powered appliance based on the "Diablo" OpenStack release. In August 2012, SUSE announced its commercially supported enterprise OpenStack distribution based on the "Essex" release.
In November 2012, The UK’s Government Digital Service (GDS) launched Inside Government based on the OpenNASA v2.0 Government as a Platform (GaaP) model.
In 2012, Red Hat announced a preview of their OpenStack distribution, beginning with the "Essex" release. After another preview release, Red Hat introduced commercial support for OpenStack with the "Grizzly" release, in July 2013.
In 2012 NASA withdrew from OpenStack as an active contributor, and instead made the strategic decision to use Amazon Web Services for cloud-based services. In July 2013, NASA released an internal audit citing lack of technical progress and other factors as the agency's primary reason for dropping out as an active developer of the project and instead focus on the use of public clouds. This report is contradicted in part by remarks made by Ames Research Center CIO, Ray O'Brien.
In December 2013, Oracle announced it had joined OpenStack as a Sponsor and planned to bring OpenStack to Oracle Solaris, Oracle Linux, and many of its products. It followed by announcing Oracle OpenStack distributions for Oracle Solaris and for Oracle Linux using Icehouse on 24 September 2014.
In May 2014, HP announced HP Helion and released a preview of HP Helion OpenStack Community, beginning with the IceHouse release. HP has operated HP Helion Public Cloud on OpenStack since 2012.
At the 2014 Interop and Tech Field Day, software-defined networking was demonstrated by Avaya using Shortest path bridging and OpenStack as an automated campus, extending automation from the data center to the end device, removing manual provisioning from service delivery.
As of March 2015, NASA still makes use of OpenStack private cloud and has RFPs out for OpenStack public cloud support.
The OpenStack community collaborates around a six-month, time-based release cycle with frequent development milestones.
During the planning phase of each release, the community would gather for an OpenStack Design Summit to facilitate developer working sessions and to assemble plans. These Design Summits would coincide with the OpenStack Summit conference.
Starting with the Pike development cycle the design meetup activity has been separated out into a separate Project Teams Gathering (PTG) event. This was done to avoid the developer distractions caused by presentations and customer meetings that were happening at the OpenStack Summit and to allow the design discussions to happen ahead of the start of the next cycle.
Recent OpenStack Summits have taken place in Shanghai on 4-6 November 2019, Denver on 29 April-1 May 2019, Berlin on 13-19 November 2018, Vancouver on 21-25 May 2018, Sydney on 6-8 November 2017, Boston on 8-11 May 2017, Austin on 25–29 April 2016, and Barcelona on 25–28 October 2016. Earlier OpenStack Summits have taken place also in Tokyo in October 2015, Vancouver in May 2015, and Paris in November 2014. The summit in May 2014 in Atlanta drew 4,500 attendees — a 50% increase from the Hong Kong summit six months earlier.
OpenStack Compute (Nova) is a cloud computing fabric controller, which is the main part of an IaaS system. It is designed to manage and automate pools of computer resources and can work with widely available virtualization technologies, as well as bare metal and high-performance computing (HPC) configurations. KVM, VMware, and Xen are available choices for hypervisor technology (virtual machine monitor), together with Hyper-V and Linux container technology such as LXC.
It is written in Python and uses many external libraries such as Eventlet (for concurrent programming), Kombu (for AMQP communication), and SQLAlchemy (for database access). Compute's architecture is designed to scale horizontally on standard hardware with no proprietary hardware or software requirements and provide the ability to integrate with legacy systems and third-party technologies.
Due to its widespread integration into enterprise-level infrastructures, monitoring OpenStack performance in general, and Nova performance in particular, scaling has become an increasingly important issue. Monitoring end-to-end performance requires tracking metrics from Nova, Keystone, Neutron, Cinder, Swift and other services, in addition to monitoring RabbitMQ which is used by OpenStack services for message passing. All these services generate their own log files, which, especially in enterprise-level infrastructures, also should be monitored.
OpenStack Networking (Neutron) is a system for managing networks and IP addresses. OpenStack Networking ensures the network is not a bottleneck or limiting factor in a cloud deployment, and gives users self-service ability, even over network configurations.
OpenStack Networking provides networking models for different applications or user groups. Standard models include flat networks or VLANs that separate servers and traffic. OpenStack Networking manages IP addresses, allowing for dedicated static IP addresses or DHCP. Floating IP addresses let traffic be dynamically rerouted to any resources in the IT infrastructure, so users can redirect traffic during maintenance or in case of a failure.
Users can create their own networks, control traffic, and connect servers and devices to one or more networks. Administrators can use software-defined networking (SDN) technologies like OpenFlow to support high levels of multi-tenancy and massive scale. OpenStack networking provides an extension framework that can deploy and manage additional network services—such as intrusion detection systems (IDS), load balancing, firewalls, and virtual private networks (VPN).
Block storage (Cinder)
OpenStack Block Storage (Cinder) provides persistent block-level storage devices for use with OpenStack compute instances. The block storage system manages the creation, attaching and detaching of the block devices to servers. Block storage volumes are fully integrated into OpenStack Compute and the Dashboard allowing for cloud users to manage their own storage needs. In addition to local Linux server storage, it can use storage platforms including Ceph, CloudByte, Coraid, EMC (ScaleIO, VMAX, VNX and XtremIO), GlusterFS, Hitachi Data Systems, IBM Storage (IBM DS8000, Storwize family, SAN Volume Controller, XIV Storage System, and GPFS), Linux LIO, NetApp, Nexenta, Nimble Storage, Scality, SolidFire, HP (StoreVirtual and 3PAR StoreServ families), INFINIDAT (InfiniBox) and Pure Storage. Block storage is appropriate for performance sensitive scenarios such as database storage, expandable file systems, or providing a server with access to raw block level storage. Snapshot management provides powerful functionality for backing up data stored on block storage volumes. Snapshots can be restored or used to create a new block storage volume.
OpenStack Identity (Keystone) provides a central directory of users mapped to the OpenStack services they can access. It acts as a common authentication system across the cloud operating system and can integrate with existing backend directory services like LDAP. It supports multiple forms of authentication including standard username and password credentials, token-based systems and AWS-style (i.e. Amazon Web Services) logins. Additionally, the catalog provides a queryable list of all of the services deployed in an OpenStack cloud in a single registry. Users and third-party tools can programmatically determine which resources they can access.
OpenStack Image (Glance) provides discovery, registration, and delivery services for disk and server images. Stored images can be used as a template. It can also be used to store and catalog an unlimited number of backups. The Image Service can store disk and server images in a variety of back-ends, including Swift. The Image Service API provides a standard REST interface for querying information about disk images and lets clients stream the images to new servers.
Glance adds many enhancements to existing legacy infrastructures. For example, if integrated with VMware, Glance introduces advanced features to the vSphere family such as vMotion, high availability and dynamic resource scheduling (DRS). vMotion is the live migration of a running VM, from one physical server to another, without service interruption. Thus, it enables a dynamic and automated self-optimizing datacenter, allowing hardware maintenance for the underperforming servers without downtimes.
Other OpenStack modules that need to interact with Images, for example Heat, must communicate with the images metadata through Glance. Also, Nova can present information about the images, and configure a variation on an image to produce an instance. However, Glance is the only module that can add, delete, share, or duplicate images.
Object storage (Swift)
OpenStack Object Storage (Swift) is a scalable redundant storage system. Objects and files are written to multiple disk drives spread throughout servers in the data center, with the OpenStack software responsible for ensuring data replication and integrity across the cluster. Storage clusters scale horizontally simply by adding new servers. Should a server or hard drive fail, OpenStack replicates its content from other active nodes to new locations in the cluster. Because OpenStack uses software logic to ensure data replication and distribution across different devices, inexpensive commodity hard drives and servers can be used.
In August 2009, Rackspace started the development of the precursor to OpenStack Object Storage, as a complete replacement for the Cloud Files product. The initial development team consisted of nine developers. SwiftStack, an object storage software company, is currently the leading developer for Swift with significant contributions from HP, Red Hat, NTT, NEC, IBM and more.
OpenStack Dashboard (Horizon) provides administrators and users with a graphical interface to access, provision, and automate deployment of cloud-based resources. The design accommodates third party products and services, such as billing, monitoring, and additional management tools. The dashboard is also brand-able for service providers and other commercial vendors who want to make use of it. The dashboard is one of several ways users can interact with OpenStack resources. Developers can automate access or build tools to manage resources using the native OpenStack API or the EC2 compatibility API.
Heat is a service to orchestrate multiple composite cloud applications using templates, through both an OpenStack-native REST API and a CloudFormation-compatible Query API.
Mistral is a service that manages workflows. User typically writes a workflow using workflow language based on YAML and uploads the workflow definition to Mistral via its REST API. Then user can start this workflow manually via the same API or configure a trigger to start the workflow on some event.
OpenStack Telemetry (Ceilometer) provides a Single Point Of Contact for billing systems, providing all the counters they need to establish customer billing, across all current and future OpenStack components. The delivery of counters is traceable and auditable, the counters must be easily extensible to support new projects, and agents doing data collections should be independent of the overall system.
Elastic map reduce (Sahara)
Sahara is a component to easily and rapidly provision Hadoop clusters. Users will specify several parameters like the Hadoop version number, the cluster topology type, node flavor details (defining disk space, CPU and RAM settings), and others. After a user provides all of the parameters, Sahara deploys the cluster in a few minutes. Sahara also provides means to scale a preexisting Hadoop cluster by adding and removing worker nodes on demand.
Bare metal (Ironic)
Ironic is an OpenStack project that provisions bare metal machines instead of virtual machines. It was initially forked from the Nova Baremetal driver and has evolved into a separate project. It is best thought of as a bare-metal hypervisor API and a set of plugins that interact with the bare-metal hypervisors. By default, it will use PXE and IPMI in concert to provision and turn on and off machines, but Ironic supports and can be extended with vendor-specific plugins to implement additional functionality.
Zaqar is a multi-tenant cloud messaging service for Web developers. The service features a fully RESTful API, which developers can use to send messages between various components of their SaaS and mobile applications by using a variety of communication patterns. Underlying this API is an efficient messaging engine designed with scalability and security in mind. Other OpenStack components can integrate with Zaqar to surface events to end users and to communicate with guest agents that run in the "over-cloud" layer.
Shared file system (Manila)
OpenStack Shared File System (Manila) provides an open API to manage shares in a vendor agnostic framework. Standard primitives include ability to create, delete, and give/deny access to a share and can be used standalone or in a variety of different network environments. Commercial storage appliances from EMC, NetApp, HP, IBM, Oracle, Quobyte, INFINIDAT and Hitachi Data Systems are supported as well as filesystem technologies such as Red Hat GlusterFS or Ceph.
Designate is a multi-tenant REST API for managing DNS. This component provides DNS as a Service and is compatible with many backend technologies, including PowerDNS and BIND. It doesn't provide a DNS service as such as its purpose is to interface with existing DNS servers to manage DNS zones on a per tenant basis.
Searchlight provides advanced and consistent search capabilities across various OpenStack cloud services. It accomplishes this by offloading user search queries from other OpenStack API servers by indexing their data into ElasticSearch. Searchlight is being integrated into Horizon and also provides a Command-line interface.
Key manager (Barbican)
Container orchestration (Magnum)
Magnum is an OpenStack API service developed by the OpenStack Containers Team making container orchestration engines such as Docker Swarm, Kubernetes, and Apache Mesos available as first class resources in OpenStack. Magnum uses Heat to orchestrate an OS image which contains Docker and Kubernetes and runs that image in either virtual machines or bare metal in a cluster configuration.
Root Cause Analysis (Vitrage)
Vitrage is the OpenStack RCA (Root Cause Analysis) service for organizing, analyzing and expanding OpenStack alarms & events, yielding insights regarding the root cause of problems and deducing their existence before they are directly detected.
Several OpenStack projects changed names due to trademark issues.
Compatibility with other cloud APIs
OpenStack does not strive for compatibility with other clouds' APIs. However, there is some amount of compatibility driven by various members of the OpenStack community for whom such things are important.
OpenStack is governed by a non-profit foundation and its board of directors, a technical committee, and a user committee. The board of directors is made up of eight members from each of the eight platinum sponsors, eight members from the 24 defined maximum allowed Gold sponsors, and eight members elected by the Foundation individual members.
An OpenStack Appliance is the name given to software that can support the OpenStack cloud computing platform on either physical devices such as servers or virtual machines or a combination of the two. Typically a software appliance is a set of software capabilities that can function without an operating system. Thus, they must contain enough of the essential underlying operating system components to work. Therefore, a strict definition might be: an application that is designed to offer OpenStack capability without the necessity of an underlying operating system. However, applying this strict definition may not be helpful, as there is not really a clear distinction between an appliance and a distribution. It could be argued that the term appliance is something of a misnomer because OpenStack itself is referred to as a cloud operating system so using the term OpenStack appliance could be a misnomer if one is being pedantic.
If we look at the range of Appliances and Distributions one could make the distinction that distributions are those toolsets which attempt to provide a wide coverage of the OpenStack project scope, whereas an Appliance will have a more narrow focus, concentrating on fewer projects. Vendors have been heavily involved in OpenStack since its inception, and have since developed and are marketing a wide range of appliances, applications and distributions.
A large number of vendors offer OpenStack solutions, meaning that an organization wishing to deploy the technology has a complex task in selecting the vendor offer that best matches its business requirements. Barb Darrow offered this overview in Fortune on 27 May 2015, pointing out that there may be some consolidation in the market that will clarify those decisions.
There are other aspects that users need to consider, for example, the real costs involved. Some vendors will make an offer which encompasses most of the OpenStack projects; others will only offer certain components. Other considerations include the extent of proprietary code used to manage a lack of maturity in an OpenStack component, and to what extent that encourages vendor lock-in.
Challenges to implementation
OpenStack is a complex entity, and adopters face a range of challenges when trying to implement OpenStack in an organisation. For many organisations trying to implement their own projects, a key issue is the lack of skills available. In an article on The New Stack, Atul JHA identifies five challenges any organization wishing to deploy OpenStack will face.
OpenStack is a suite of projects rather than a single product, and because each of the various applications needs to be configured to suit the user's requirements, installation is complex and requires a range of complementary skill-sets for an optimum set-up. One obvious solution would be to take a complete vendor supplied package containing hardware and software, although due diligence is essential.
One of the main objectives of using cloud type infrastructure is that it offers its users not only high reliability but also high availability, something that public cloud suppliers will offer in Service Level Agreements.
Long term support
It’s quite common for a business to keep using an earlier release of software for some time after it has been upgraded. The reasons for this are pretty obvious and referred to above. However, there is little incentive for developers in an open source project to provide support for superseded code. In addition, OpenStack itself has formally discontinued support for some old releases.
Given the above challenges the most appropriate route for an organization wishing to implement OpenStack would be to go with a vendor, and source an OpenStack appliance or distribution.
- AT&T – joined OpenStack in January 2012
- Betfair Now PaddyPower Betfair has a private cloud which will support its entire productions stack - named "i2".
- Bhabha Atomic Research Centre has a private cloud to cater to in house employees' requirements.
- Chalmers University of Technology
- Deutsche Telekom has created a "Business Marketplace", whose functionality is based on OpenStack and Open Telekom Cloud operated by T-Systems
- DreamHost - offers public cloud computing.
- Ericsson - has created CEE (Cloud Execution Environment), whose functionality is based on OpenStack
- Fuga Cloud - is a Dutch public cloud and is build with OpenStack
- HMRC - British tax collectors
- HP Converged Cloud, which combines software and cloud services into a unified set of packages and under a single unified architecture.
- Huawei - has created Huawei FusionCloud, whose functionality is based on OpenStack
- KT (formerly Korea Telecom) - for object storage only
- MercadoLibre.com – MercadoLibre has over 6,000 VMs managed by OpenStack
- Nokia Networks
- NTT Docomo
- OVH has created a "Public Cloud" offer, based on OpenStack, and is also supporting the OpenStack Foundation, as an Infrastructure donor
- Panasonic Avionics Corporation
- Rackspace Cloud
- Reliance Jio
- Sony - online games for PlayStation 4
- Spil Games
- SUSE Cloud solution until October 2019
- Telefonica Telefonica has abuilt common Telco Cloud called UNICA. Telefonica has created an International Hyperscalar Platform (Open Cloud)
- VEXXHOST - VEXXHOST has been offering enterprise-grade cloud solutions powered by OpenStack since 2011, extending from its Public and Private clouds to Consulting.
- Wikimedia Cloud Services
- ZF Friedrichshafen AG
As the OpenStack project has matured, vendors have pioneered multiple ways for customers to deploy OpenStack:
- OpenStack-based Public Cloud
- A vendor provides a public cloud computing system based on the OpenStack project.
- On-premises distribution
- In this model, a customer downloads and installs an OpenStack distribution in their internal network. See Distributions.
- Hosted OpenStack Private Cloud
- A vendor hosts an OpenStack-based private cloud: including the underlying hardware and the OpenStack software.
- A vendor hosts OpenStack management software (without any hardware) as a service. Customers sign up for the service and pair it with their internal servers, storage and networks to get a fully operational private cloud.
- Appliance based OpenStack
- Nebula was a vendor that sold appliances that could be plugged into a network which spawned an OpenStack deployment.
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