With OpenStack Mitaka, the latest code release of the cloud management platform, going live today, we got the opportunity to talk with some OpenStack Foundation execs about chunks of the release that relate to the SDxCentral universe — and about the state of OpenStack in general.
OpenStack is still less than six years old and will forever be a work-in-progress, as any major software platform is. But it’s become mature enough to be the basis of large-scale production deployments from the likes of AT&T and Walmart.
And it’s reached a point where some of those large users are able to provide feedback. That leads to pragmatic features in every release — Mitaka being no exception — that involve things like creating default settings for Nova, OpenStack’s oldest project. It’s a way of “taking a lot of configuration complexity out,” says Jonathan Bryce, executive director of the OpenStack Foundation.
OpenStack and Telecom
A bigger change for OpenStack in the past year or so has been the involvement of telecom operators. AT&T has made the most noise about open source, but “Verizon is another example,” Bryce says. “A lot of these companies — as they plan their 5G transitions, they want their networks to be in a software-defined world.”
Specifically, telcos and cable companies want to move away from “the traditional model, where they have all their fixed-function, proprietary gear that’s been building up in the central office for decades,” he says. “They finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
The goal is for central offices to become more like data centers — which you might have noticed in open source efforts like the Central Office Re-architected as a Datacenter (CORD). (AT&T initiated CORD, but SK Telecom was actually the carrier that brought it to the OpenStack Foundation’s attention, Bryce says.)
Some carriers are still getting accustomed to the open source world — and on the flip side, the OpenStack community took time to warm up to carriers, says Mark Collier, the OpenStack Foundation’s COO.
The community was particularly puzzled by network functions virtualization (NFV) and its forest of acronyms, Collier says. But he describes a kind of dance that’s emerged, to both sides’ benefit: Carriers ask for carrier-specific features, and the OpenStack developer community responds by massaging the idea into something useful for other use cases as well.
Heat, Intent, and Convergence
OpenStack is also continuing to move toward intent-driven models, where operators tell the network what they want (the “desired state”), and the network automatically shifts to make it happen.
A few different projects, such as Congress, have been injecting policy- or intent-based thinking into OpenStack. In particular, Heat, which handles lifecycle management, has introduced the idea of a convergence engine. It spins up or removes infrastructure in order to bring the network to the desired state — i.e., it’s your valet for turning intent into reality.
The convergence engine can make this happen by telling Heat to add new infrastructure, move components into the correct order, or parallelize certain processes, among other actions.
Pieces of the Heat convergence engine appeared in Liberty, the previous OpenStack release, but it’s in Mitaka that the full convergence engine is available, Collier says. A second phase, including features for resilience, is planned for the OpenStack “N” release coming in the fall.
Neutron’s ‘Bad Rap’
Because networking is a huge part of our coverage, we hear a lot of complaints about Neutron, the OpenStack networking project. But Collier defended the project, saying Neutron has “gotten a bad rap.”
He thinks that’s because of the project’s scope. “It’s an incredibly ambitious project that’s taken time to develop, and it’s taken time for other components like Open vSwitch to develop along with it,” he says.
Popular or not, Neutron is in use. Survey results reported at last fall’s OpenStack Summit in Tokyo noted that 89 percent of production OpenStack deployments use Neutron, up from 68 percent a year earlier, Collier says. Neutron has been expanding its scope as well; it’s now fully outfitted with BGP routing, for building large and complicated networks, for instance.
And through OpenStack’s Kuryr project, Neutron is being linked to container networking.
Mitaka’s official launch is today. Vendors’ distributions and other products supporting Mitaka will trickle into the market on their own time, as is usual for an OpenStack release. If you’re itching to download the code, it should be available at www.openstack.org/software/mitaka/.