Go Big Or Go Home: OpenStack Open-Source Cloud Scales Up


OpenStack, the open-source cloud operating system led by Rackspace, scaled up on Friday with the release of "Cactus," the latest update to the community-driven open-source cloud that is designed for larger cloud deployments.

The Cactus update, OpenStack's third open-source cloud code release since the OpenStack initiative launched last July, adds more than 40 new features from 4,700 community contributions and increases the open-source cloud system's stability, said Jonathan Bryce, chairman of the project policy board for OpenStack.

The Cactus update follows February's "Bexar" release and OpenStack's "Austin" release last October.

"A lot of good stuff went into this release," Bryce said, adding that over the last two months a host of new contributors have stepped up and a larger percent of the code is coming from more companies. Bryce said between 150 and 170 developers have contributed code to OpenStack so far. "The community is really growing and thriving," Bryce said.

Much of the Cactus development and documentation efforts were spent building out existing features, extending the API and adding support for popular enterprise technologies to enable enterprises and service providers to deploy OpenStack clouds with greater scale and performance, Bryce said.

Among the new features is the addition of OpenStack Image Service, code-name Glance, which works as a discovery, public registration and delivery service for virtual disk images. OpenStack Image Service lets users take snapshots from running virtual machines and back them up and create templates to start running virtual machines. The public image repository enables users to stand up an instance and make a public image available, which lets users share virtual machine images across clouds from different vendors, Bryce said.

On the OpenStack Compute (code-name Nova) side, the Cactus release adds support for all virtualization techniques including Microsoft Hyper-V, KVM, LXC, QEMU, UML, VMware vSphere, Xen and Citrix XenServer. IT also now features enhanced network management, including IPv6 support; live migration support for KVM, which lets users move running virtual machines from one physical host to another; and multi-cluster region support, which lets admins manage servers in clusters and create fault and availability zones.

Other new OpenStack compute features include a new OpenStack API 1.1 with support for extensions that allow developers to add extensions to their OpenStack installations ahead of the code being accepted by the community; and support for enterprise storage solutions like Solaris iSCSI and HP SAN.

And for OpenStack Object Storage (code-name Swift), Cactus adds a beefed up authentication system with the ability to collect and serve data that enables integration of service provider billing solutions or internal chargebacks; and static Web serving for faster and easier access to content.

Bryce said more than 60 organizations are now part of the OpenStack community, which is prepping the next release, dubbed "Diablo" for July 2011.

"The way the community expanded is much, much quicker than I expected," Bryce said, adding that "we're nine months into it and we're getting great support."

The Cactus update comes less than a month after Rackspace, Equinix and Dell teamed up to launch an OpenStack demo environment in three data centers in the U.S., which give SaaS providers, network operators and enterprises that want to deploy cloud solutions the ability to demo OpenStack in a test environment before an OpenStack proof of concept.

To help partners and OpenStack users get up to speed with the open-source cloud environment, Rackspace last month launched Cloud Builders, a new set of services, support and training options.

Along with Cloud Builders, Rackspace has said that OpenStack creates a host of opportunities for the channel, enabling partners to contribute code, use the platform as a deployment target for client applications, add it on as a part of their software stack or launch consulting services around it.