OpenContrail: An Essential Tool in the OpenStack Ecosystem


Throughout 2016, software-defined networking (SDN) rapidly evolved, and numerous players in the open source and cloud computing arenas are now helping it gain momentum. In conjunction with that trend, OpenContrail, a popular SDN platform used with the OpenStack cloud computing platform, is emerging as an essential tool around which many administrators will have to develop skillsets.

Just as administrators and developers have ramped up their skillsets surrounding essential tools like Ceph in the OpenStack ecosystem, they will need to embrace OpenContrail, which is fully open source and stewarded by the Apache Software Foundation.

With all of this in mind, Mirantis, one of the most active companies on the OpenStack scene, has announced commercial support for and contributions to OpenContrail. “With the addition of OpenContrail, Mirantis becomes a one-stop support shop for the entire stack of popular open source technologies used in conjunction with OpenStack, including Ceph for storage, OpenStack/KVM for compute and OpenContrail or Neutron for SDN,” the company noted.

According to a Mirantis announcement, “OpenContrail is an Apache 2.0-licensed project that is built using standards-based protocols and provides all the necessary components for network virtualization–SDN controller, virtual router, analytics engine, and published northbound APIs. It has an extensive REST API to configure and gather operational and analytics data from the system. Built for scale, OpenContrail can act as a fundamental network platform for cloud infrastructure.”

The news follows Mirantis’ acquisition of TCP Cloud, a company specializing in managed services for OpenStack, OpenContrail, and Kubernetes. Mirantis will use TCP Cloud’s technology for continuous delivery of cloud infrastructure to manage the OpenContrail control plane, which will run in Docker containers. As a part of the effort, Mirantis has also been contributing to OpenContrail.

Many contributors behind OpenContrail are working closely with Mirantis, and they have especially taken note of the support programs that Mirantis will offer.

“OpenContrail is an essential project within the OpenStack community, and Mirantis is smart to containerize and commercially support it. The work our team is doing will make it easy to scale and update OpenContrail and perform seamless rolling upgrades alongside the rest of Mirantis OpenStack,” said Jakub Pavlik, Mirantis’ director of engineering and OpenContrail Advisory Board member. “Commercial support will also enable Mirantis to make the project compatible with a variety of switches, giving customers more choice in their hardware and software,” he said.

In addition to commercial support for OpenContrail, we are very likely to see Mirantis serve up educational offerings for cloud administrators and developers who want to learn how to leverage it. Mirantis is already well-known for its OpenStack training curriculum and has wrapped Ceph into its training.

In 2016, the SDN category rapidly evolved, and it also became meaningful to many organizations with OpenStack deployments. IDC published a study of the SDN market recently and predicted a 53.9 percent CAGR from 2014 through 2020, at which point the market will be valued at $12.5 billion. In addition, the Technology Trends 2016 report ranked SDN as one of the best technology investments that organizations can make.

“Cloud computing and the 3rd Platform have driven the need for SDN, which will represent a market worth more than $12.5 billion in 2020. Not surprisingly, the value of SDN will accrue increasingly to network-virtualization software and to SDN applications, including virtualized network and security services. Large enterprises are now realizing the value of SDN in the datacenter, but ultimately, they will also recognize its applicability across the WAN to branch offices and to the campus network,” said Rohit Mehra, Vice President of Network Infrastructure at IDC.

Meanwhile, The Linux Foundation recently announced the release of its 2016 report “Guide to the Open Cloud: Current Trends and Open Source Projects.” This third annual report provides a comprehensive look at the state of open cloud computing, and includes a section on SDN.

The Linux Foundation also offers Software Defined Networking Fundamentals (LFS265), a self-paced, online course on SDN, and functions as the steward of the Open Daylight project, another important open source SDN platform that is quickly gaining momentum.

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