How do you get more people to use OpenStack? Make it easier to work with -- or at least so that it's less like work. Hence the OpenStack Foundation's latest project, the OpenStack Community App Catalog, which provides a repository of common applications and app-stack components used in building a cloud.
The catalog lists content packaged in three ways: software published with OpenStack's Murano software catalog; virtual machine images published with Glance; and Heat orchestration templates, the original app-orchestration system for OpenStack. The "open" in the Open App Catalog reflects its use of "the same tools for submission and review as other OpenStack projects," according to the official documentation.
"App catalog" is a bit of a misnomer for the project; some of what's published through the App Catalog is better described as "infrastructure." Murano, for instance, has packages for the likes of Apache Tomcat and Cloud Foundry.
Glance images, by contrast, are mainly OS images or bare application stacks. Also, apps can exist in the catalog in multiple incarnations, leaving the deployment choices to the user -- they could install said app as a virtual appliance or via a Heat template onto an existing VM.
OpenStack COO Mark Collier says the Community App Catalog serves two functions: "giv[ing] users a place to put their templates and share best practices, but also help[ing] new users get started with their clouds." Also, OpenStack vendor Mirantis has stumped for the use of the Murano component to make app deployments less gnarly, even without the Community App Catalog behind it.
Another way to look at the Community App Catalog: as OpenStack's signal to prospective users that it has real utility and exists to make the job of standing up applications and systems easier on balance, not harder.
That's not a bad goal, and the convenience of having a set of vetted applications and templates is a boon to amateurs and experts alike. What's less clear is if this will help tip the scales for OpenStack, especially as the features it's adding for app deployment (such as container management) might better serve enterprises as they are -- without OpenStack's management baggage.