Quantum, an OpenStack project aimed at making networking easier to manage within the cloud infrastructure stack, is on track to achieving its goal of eliminating vendor lock-in, according to one of the project's pioneers.
In an interview Monday with CRN, Martin Casado, co-founder of network virtualization startup Nicira and chief architect of networking at VMware, said Quantum is now being used in production by "a number of customers." Quantum is supported in Folsom, the latest update to OpenStack, which arrived last month.
While networking hardware from different vendors can communicate through a standardized interface, the operational side has always been proprietary. Quantum seeks to address this by developing a vendor neutral API for networking.
Previously, networking was slotted under Nova, OpenStack's compute service, but with Quantum it now has its own interface, and that fills an important gap.
"Networking is important to cloud, but it was not a first-class citizen and could not evolve on its own. This lets you represent it in the cloud management stack as a standalone entity," Casado told CRN.
With networking now fully represented within OpenStack, organizations can configure sophisticated network topologies using a plug-in architecture and also take advantage of multitenancy, among other benefits. Quantum is structured in a way that will allow the technology ecosystem to move forward, Casado said.
"Quantum is important because as the tech landscape evolves, the customer needs to be protected from this evolution. They don't want to be locked into a technology dead end," Casado told CRN.
At Nicira, Casado was part of the team that launched the Quantum project within OpenStack, an organization that was created as a more open and vendor-neutral alternative to VMware. In the wake of VMware's $1.2 billion acquisition of Nicira, Casado's priorities may seem to have shifted.
But VMware joined OpenStack last month, and Casado told CRN VMware is "fully committed" to backing the initiative. In fact, VMware was an ideal candidate to acquire Nicira, he said.
"If you look at the technology road maps [of VMware and Nicira], they were very well-aligned," Casado said. "There was almost perfect alignment in the strategies."
Casado is quick to note that Quantum is not a technology that solves problems on its own but an interface for higher-level networking within OpenStack. That's an important distinction, as Casado believes that the hype around software-defined networking has blurred its strategic purpose.
"I think there is a tendency in the industry at a high level to take technologies and imbue them with powers they don't have," Casado said. "This happened with [software-defined networking], which is not a solution, but a mechanism and an approach."
PUBLISHED OCT. 31, 2012