Rather than leave such features to a particular distribution, OpenStack has been attempting to integrate them into the project's core mission. But another big OpenStack effort -- its reorganization of the project's management -- is still drawing criticism.
Pulling it all together
A unified OpenStack command-line client is a key new feature intended to improve both management and user experiences. Each service, current or future, can register a command set with the client through a plug-in architecture. Previously, each OpenStack project had an individual CLI, and managing multiple aspects of OpenStack required a great deal of switching between clients, each with its own command sets.
At the same time, API calls for the various subprojects in OpenStack are now more uniform, along with the SDKs that go with them, so it's easier for developers to write apps that plug directly into OpenStack components.
OpenStack instances are also easier to get up and running -- an aim with each passing revision of OpenStack. This time around, more of the platform's core settings come with defaults chosen, and many previously complex setup operations have been whittled to a single step. OpenStack's identity and networking services, Keystone and Neutron, both feature these improvements.
Big tent or big problems?
Mitaka marks the first major OpenStack release since the project adopted its Big Tent governance model. In an attempt to tame project sprawl, OpenStack resolved to reform the way projects are included and to describe which projects are best suited to what scenarios.
Julien Danjou, software engineer at Red Hat and author of "The Hacker's Guide to Python," believes OpenStack's core problems haven't been solved by the Big Tent model. "OpenStack is still stuck between its old and new models," he said in a blog post. The old model of OpenStack, a tiny ecosystem with a few integrated projects, has given way to a great many projects where "many are considered as second-class citizens. Efforts are made to continue to build an OpenStack project that does not exist anymore," Danjou said.
Chris Dent, a core contributor to OpenStack, feels Big Tent has diluted the project's unity of purpose. "We cannot effectively reach our goal of interoperable but disparate clouds if everyone can build their own custom cloud by picking and choosing their own pieces from a collection," he said.
Dent thinks OpenStack should be kept small and focused, "with contractually strong APIs ... allowing it to continue to be an exceptionally active member of and user of the larger open source community."
Mitaka's work in unifying the API set and providing a common CLI are steps in that direction. But countering that is OpenStack's tendency to become more all-encompassing, which appeals only to a narrow, vertical set of customers -- service providers, for instance, or operations like eBay -- with the cash and manpower to make it work.