RHEL OpenStack 5: Red Hat hogs the OpenStack spotlight

Red Hat's new OpenStack distribution shows how much it wants to be the leader of the pack for the cloud platform

Red Hat has rolled out the latest version of its OpenStack product, Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform 5. It comes hot on the heels of the latest version of RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) and not long after questions have been raised about whether Red Hat's been exerting too tight a grip on OpenStack's development.

Meanwhile, OpenStack itself has released the 2.0 version of Swift, its object storage subsystem, with storage policies as its big new feature. OpenStack claims this is "the biggest thing to happen in Swift since it was open sourced four years ago," but it'll be hard for RHEL OpenStack users to know that right away since Swift 2.0 isn't yet included as part of RHEL OpenStack Platform 5.

OpenStack provided its ninth release (code-named "Icehouse") back in April. Red Hat's OpenStack Platform 5 is based on Icehouse's code andincludes all the key features of that release, including a limited version of live upgrades for OpenStack clusters, support for federated identity systems, and the Trove database management component.

One common perception of OpenStack is that it's serving as a low-cost substitute for VMware in some workloads. Such a use case might explain why Red Hat is trumpeting cross-integration between VMware and OpenStack in this release.

Swift 2.0 sports storage policies that allow for Swift clusters to store data based on defined policies. One such policy would reduce the amount of redundancy in a given Swift instance, as easily re-created data doesn't need redundancy as much as other kinds. Another would be having data that needs to reside on SSDs confined only to those types of devices.

This is another area where OpenStack is coming up to the level of functionality already found by default in commercial products -- VMware, for example, has had its own variant of storage policies for some time now. Even if RHEL OpenStack 5 doesn't include Swift 2.0 by default, it ought to be possible to add it in later as an upgrade.

Why pick Red Hat's OpenStack over other vendors, such as Mirantis? Red Hat's answer is the support, service, expertise, and integration it claims to provide for the entire stack. Existing RHEL customers clearly get the biggest benefit, since (as the name alone implies) RHEL OpenStack Platform is designed to work most closely around RHEL itself. Red Hat's recent acquisition of OpenStack shop eNovance provides strong in-the-field OpenStack expertise.

Still, all of Red Hat's recent work with OpenStack has been colored by others' perceptions of how closely Red Hat wants to control not only its own OpenStack product, but the project in general. Some feel that by creating an edition of OpenStack that is meant mainly to support Red Hat's own edition of Linux and be bolstered by its own support structure, Red Hat is trying to lock customers in and make OpenStack a de facto Red Hat product. Red Hat, however, insists that its certification programs for OpenStack are simply meant to provide a level of assurance for customers about the experience provided by is product.

Forrester Research analyst Dave Bartoletti believes this to be the case, and he takes it as a sign that OpenStack has arrived. "It's one thing for a management or application vendor to say 'works with OpenStack'," he said in an email, "and another to say 'certified to work properly with the supported version of OpenStack distributed by Red Hat.' Everyone can say the former. It's a good sign of maturity in the OpenStack ecosystem."

This story, "RHEL OpenStack 5: Red Hat hogs the OpenStack spotlight," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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