OpenStack gets a new GUI

The open source cloud software stack has been updated with a new interface and unified authentication

The developers behind OpenStack have updated their open source cloud software package with a new graphical user interface and a unified authentication management system, the project's organizers announced Thursday.

The goals behind this update have been to "make OpenStack easier to use and administer. And we've continued to improve for extreme scale," said Jonathan Bryce, chairman of the OpenStack Project Policy Board. "We're not talking about [using OpenStack to run a] cloud of 100 servers or even 1,000 servers, but tens of thousands of servers. Other options out there aren't really considering that scale."

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Overall, this release, named Diablo, will include over 70 new features and enhancements.

A number of these features address this goal for massive scalability. The software has a new distributed scheduler for deploying virtual machines anywhere in the system, even if nodes are scattered about in different data centers around the globe. A new multicluster container sync feature can be used to replicate data across different remote clusters. The image management service now allows users to search for specific virtual machine instances, which could be a handy feature for service providers with many customers.

First developed by NASA for its Nebula Cloud Project, OpenStack is an open source stack of software for running large cloud installations. Hosting provider Rackspace manages the software project, and is planning to host OpenStack deployments on its own services. OpenStack consists of three components, OpenStack Compute, OpenStack Object Storage and OpenStack Image Service.

Thus far, the software stack has been downloaded over 50,000 times, according to the foundation. The Latin American trading platform MercadoLibre, which serves over 58 million users, uses the software. Walt Disney and the CERN (European Laboratory for Particle Physics) also use the software as well.

The new graphical user interface, largely developed by OpenStack service vendor Nebula, allows administrators to provision resources through a portal interface. With previous versions of OpenStack, administrators controlled the software by a command line interface, or with their own programs by way of OpenStack's API (application programming interface).

The new dashboard-based graphical interface is available as a separate download, though it can be easily plugged into the core OpenStack set of software, Bryce said. The next release of OpenStack, called Essex, will have the GUI built into the core program.

The software also features a unified identity management system, called OpenStack Keystone, that can tie together the different authentication systems previously deployed for individual components. "This will be a replacement option for existing authentication choices in OpenStack," Bryce said. "It's a single sign-on for everything." It can also integrate with external directory systems, such as Microsoft Active Directory or other authentication systems based on LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol).

Like the OpenStack Dashboard, Keystone is available in this release as a separate downloaded, and will be integrated into the core software for the next release.

Another feature available as a separate download is OpenStack Quantum, which allows users to configure virtual networks, by way of an API.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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