Essentials of OpenStack Administration Part 5: OpenStack Releases and Use Cases

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OpenStack has come a long way since 2010 when NASA approached Rackspace for a project. With 1,600 individual contributors to OpenStack and a six-month release cycle, there are a lot of changes and progress. This amount of change and progress is not without its drawbacks. In the Juno release, there were something like 10,000 bugs. In the next release, Kilo, there were 13,000 bugs. But as OpenStack is deployed in more environments, and more people are interested in it, the community grows both in users and developers.

In part 5 of our series from the Essentials of OpenStack Administration course sample chapter, we discuss the OpenStack project in more detail: its community of contributors, release cycle, and use cases. Download the full sample chapter now.

History of OpenStack

In 2010, Engineers at NASA approached some friends at Rackspace to build an open cloud for NASA and hopefully other government organizations as part of an Open Government initiative. At that time, there were only proprietary and expensive offerings available. Project Nebula was born. Rackspace was interested in moving their software toward open source and saw Nebula as a good place to begin.

Together they started working on something called Nova, known now as OpenStack Compute. At the time, Nova was the project that did everything. It did storage, and network, and virtual machines. Now, new projects have taken over some of those duties.

Since then, the number of projects has grown incredibly. If you go to the OpenStack.org website and look at the projects page, you’ll notice there are more than 35 different projects. Each project is made up of one or more services to the cloud. Each of the projects is developed separately.

Although NASA has stopped major work on OpenStack, a large and growing group of supporters still remains. Each component of OpenStack has a dedicated project. Each project has an official name, as well as a more well-known code-name. The project list has been growing with each release. Some projects are considered core, others are newer and in incubation stages. See a list of the current projects.

There are several distributions of OpenStack available as well, from large IT companies and start-ups alike. DevStack is a deployment of OpenStack available from the www.openstack.org website. It allows for easy testing of new features, but is not considered production-safe. Red Hat, Canonical, Mirantis and several other companies also provide their own deployment of OpenStack, similar to the many options to install Linux.

OpenStack Release Pattern

The first release of the project was code-named Austin, in October of 2010. Since then, a major release has been deployed every six months. There are code features and proposals that are evaluated every two months or so, as well as code sprints planned on a regular basis.

The quick release schedule and large number of developers working on code does not always lead to smooth transitions. The Kilo release was the first one to address an upgrade path, with its success yet to be known. In fact, there were approximately 10 percent more bugs in the Kilo release than the first Juno release.

OpenStack Use Cases

The ability to deploy and redeploy various instances allows for software development at the speed of the developer, without downtime waiting for IT to handle a ticket.

Testing can be easily done in parallel with various flavors, or system configurations, and operating system configurations. These choices are also within the reach of the end user to lessen interaction with the IT team.

Using both a Browser User Interface (BUI) or a command line, much of the common IT requests can be delegated to the users. The IT staff can focus on higher-level functions and problems instead of more common requests.

The flexibility of OpenStack through various software-defined layers allows for more options, instead of fewer, as has happened with server consolidation.

The next, and final, article in this series is a tutorial on installing DevStack, a simple way for developers to test-drive OpenStack.

The Essentials of OpenStack Administration course teaches you everything you need to know to create and manage private and public clouds with OpenStack. Download a sample chapter today!

Read the other articles in the series:

Essentials of OpenStack Administration Part 1: Cloud Fundamentals

Essentials of OpenStack Administration Part 2: The Problem With Conventional Data Centers

Essentials of OpenStack Administration Part 3: Existing Cloud Solutions

Essentials of OpenStack Administration Part 4: Cloud Design, Software-Defined Networking and Storage