“In this release specifically, there were a lot of things on the networking side that do a good job tying together enterprise technology and containers and bare metal,” says Jonathan Bryce, executive director of the OpenStack Foundation.
Of course, the release includes the usual trove of incremental improvements that help with things like scalability and overall usefulness. But it’s been interesting to watch the progression of some projects that are helping OpenStack extend beyond the world of virtual machines.
In a conversation with SDxCentral, Bryce described a few of the new features related to Neutron (OpenStack’s networking project), explaining how they make the platform more useful with containers and bare metal.
Ironic is the OpenStack project for provisioning workloads onto bare metal — that is, servers that don’t come with a particular operating system pre-loaded. With Newton, Ironic has tighter ties to Neutron, which was created as a way to network virtual machines and is now being spruced up for bare metal and containers. For instance, when Neutron is deployed onto bare metal, it will now know what security and access control policies should be applied to each port.
On the container side, there’s Kuryr, a networking project that’s like Neutron for containers.
“Containers are kind of the opposite side of bare metal,” Bryce says. “When you run containers, they don’t have their own networking stack, because those containers are little slices inside the host operating system.”
In other words, containers don’t have an OS of their own; they share one. That’s one reason why the networking of containers takes some work, and why managing them in bulk can be challenging, he says.
Magnum is a container orchestration manager, also described as containers-as-a-service. Launched in late 2014, the project gives operators a way to call up containers much in the way they call up compute instances. It’s an aid to the usual container orchestration tools: Docker Swarm, Kubernetes, and Mesos.
Some of the new features in Magnum include support for Kubernetes clusters on bare metal (which relates back to the Kuryr and Ironic projects) and asynchronous cluster creation.
Get Me a Network — yes, that’s its actual name — is a new feature for Nova, the OpenStack project related to computing software.
It’s the networking option you would use “if you were just getting started and you didn’t know what you wanted your network to look like,” Bryce says. In many cases, Neutron requires every tenant to have networking configurations set, which is a complication for those who don’t know networking.
Get Me a Network simplifies the process for those folks. A typical use case would be someone who wants to deploy just a couple of virtual machines and doesn’t need any complicated networking.
Mutable configuration settings are a new convenience factor added to Nova. When new configuration options become available, it’s now possible to add them into an OpenStack node without having to reboot.
VLAN-aware virtual machines are a networking feature with implications for network functions virtualization (NFV). OpenStack can be used as the virtual infrastructure manager (VIM) in an NFV deployment, and that use case has helped attract telecom developers to the framework.
The new feature lets an operator use a virtual LAN to move traffic toward a particular virtual networking function (VNF) housed inside a virtual machine. This can be useful in cases where an application needs the dynamic nature of a VLAN — or when a pre-OpenStack application was written in a way that was meant to take advantage of VLANs.
Non-High Tech Users
One OpenStack trend not directly reflected in Newton is the increasing commercial worthiness of the framework. OpenStack is an archipelago of projects, but several vendors offer their own commercial versions of it, the appeal being that the customer wouldn’t have to puzzle over how to assemble everything.
“We’ve gotten to that point where it’s mature enough and there are enough commercial options. We see non-high-tech companies adopting it,” Bryce says.
One example he holds up is JFE Steel in Japan, which has moved OpenStack into a production cloud.
“The thing that’s interesting about it is that they’re a steel company. This isn’t Paypal or eBay. They don’t have thousands of developers,” Bryce says. (Paypal and eBay do happen to be OpenStack users, by the way.)
OpenStack Newton is available now at http://www.openstack.org/software/newton/. The next OpenStack release is named Ocata, after a beach in Spain, and is due for release on Feb. 23.