OpenStack: Havana is released!

OpenStack Overview

If you’ve been online at all in the past several years, you have undoubtedly heard about “The Cloud”. Cloud computing is essentially the method by which we can harness the power of many individual computers by combining that power into one amorphous blob (or “cloud”) of computational ability.  We can then use this blob to create & run virtual machines that will make up the server infrastructure for a given project. Essentially, the goal is to make creation & deployment of servers as easy as selecting a dropdown from a simple web form.

OpenStack is the name given to an open-source collection of software that allows anyone to create & manage their own cloud. OpenStack was launched by Rackspace Hosting and NASA in July 2010 as a way to bring cloud computing to the masses. In fact, Rackspace uses this software to manage most of the infrastructure for their $1.3 billion business. Since the launch, more than 200 companies (including AT&T, Cisco & Dell) joined the project as development partners. Needless to say, OpenStack caught on quickly!

Cool Update #1: Networking

Havana includes  some key upgrades to the OpenStack networking services. The new release focused on increased access for Layer 2 networking protocols. This resulted in new VPN-as-a-service & Firewall-as-a-service capabilities. This will make it easier for hardware vendors to write plugins to help manage & monitor the networking infrastructure within an OpenStack cluster.

Cool Update #2: Metering

The new Metering service tracks usage & performance data across all the services in an OpenStack cluster. This means that OpenStack is now better able to handle usage & performance metrics as related to customer billing. Combined with the networking upgrades mentioned above, administrators will be able to view custom usage data both globally & by individual resource.

Cool Update #3: Resource Orchestration

My favorite addition to Havana is code-named “Heat“. Similar to  Amazon’s CloudFormation, Heat manages the lifecycle of infrastructure living in an OpenStack cloud. Simply put, Heat lets your create your own server environment with easy-to-create “recipes” instead of having to create the environments manually.

Heat templates are simple text files that lists all servers, storage volumes, users, etc. for a specific application infrastructure setup. For example, a template for a WordPress setup would allocate all hardware resources needed for a WordPress site (Ubuntu VM, MySQL database, etc.). After creating the template, provisioning a new setup in Heat is as easy as clicking a few buttons in the newly-updated OpenStack Dashboard. Need increased power for your setup? Just adjust the text in your template file! 

In an effort to support widely-used tools, OpenStack Heat is compatible with the AWS CloudFormation templates mentioned above. Heat template also work well in conjunction with popular software configuration management tools such as Puppet and Chef.


Stay tuned in the coming weeks. After weeks (maybe even months) of planning, the CURTIS Digital team is going to create a private OpenStack cluster here in our Austin office.  Keep an eye out on this blog & on our Facebook page for updates.

And if you’d like to get involved with the OpenStack project, start with a quick visit to the Try OpenStack page. From there you can find all the downloads & documentation you’ll need to create your own private cloud.

Until next time, happy computing!

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