OpenStack Liberty Brings Software-Defined Networking, Container Management, and Large Deployments to the Cloud

Openstack, the most successful open-source cloud program, has added big new features in its new Liberty release.

Building on the OpenStack Kilo release, Liberty has enhanced management features; significant updates to its Nova compute component; improved cells for easier deployment scaling; and container management support.

From the top, Liberty comes with finer-grained access controls and simpler management features. Under the hood it also includes common library adoption and better configuration management. Liberty also adds role-based access control (RBAC) for the Heat orchestration and Neutron networking projects. This gives cloud administrators the power to fine tune security settings at all levels of network, orchestration functions, and application programming interfaces (API)s.

Nova’s most important update is in Cells v2. With this, you’ll be more easily able to horizontal scale OpenStack clouds. With cells, rather than switching to larger servers, you simply add more servers with identically configured services to gain more availability.

Ideally, you scale out and load balance among groups of functionally identical services. With fast enough Internet connections and software-defined network (SDN) tools such as network-function virtualization (NFV) you can have multiple smaller and separate OpenStack instances that appear to be a single cloud center or zone. With Cell v2 scaling, it’s become easier than ever to grow OpenStack deployments.

Cells v2 works hand-in-glove with OpenStack’s improved NFV services. Liberty adds the software’s capabilities with new features like an extensible Nova compute scheduler, a network Quality of Service (QoS) framework and enhanced LBaaS (load balancing as a service).

Liberty also brings the first full release of the Magnum containers management project. Magnum uses Heat, OpenStack’s orchestration program to create operating system instances. These, in turn, contain Docker containers and Kubernetes, Google’s container management program. These images can then be run on either virtual machines (VM) or bare metal in a cluster.

“Out of the gate,” according to OpenStack, “Magnum supports popular container cluster management tools Kubernetes, Mesos and Docker Swarm. Magnum makes it easier to adopt container technology by tying into existing OpenStack services such as Nova, Ironic and Neutron. Further improvements are planned with new project, Kuryr. When this arrives, it will integrate directly with native container networking components such as Docker’s libnetwork.

Heat itself has added new resources for management, automation and orchestration of Liberty’s expanded capabilities. These include APIs to expose what resources and actions are available, using RBAC controls.

Last, but far from least, OpenStack shifted the way it organizes and recognizes upstream projects. What it all boils down to is developers are now focusing on OpenStack’s core services. Before this, OpenStack was getting to be like stone soup. Everything and anything was being tossed in. It might have been tasty, but it was getting harder and harder to achieve consistency. The core services are: compute (virtualization and bare metal), storage (block and object) and networking. These core elements are now known “big tent.”

The result?

“OpenStack has emerged as an increasingly capable and widely deployed open cloud technology,” said Al Sadowski, 451 Research’s research director. “The companies using it successfully are those that have done their research, engaged with the project’s community and deployed in manageable stages. We expect OpenStack-based service providers will outgrow the overall IaaS service provider market through 2019.”

Lauren Nelson, a Forrester Research senior analyst, added in “OpenStack Is Ready — Are You?” “Notable Fortune 100 enterprises like BMW, Disney, and Wal-Mart have irrefutably proven that OpenStack is viable for production environments. These are regular companies, not firms that were born digital like Etsy, Facebook, and Netflix. OpenStack’s presence in the market is now accelerating, leveraging the success of these pioneers.”

Liberty is speeding that up even more.

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