What do enterprises want to see in OpenStack? With its latest distribution of the cloud hosting software, Red Hat is betting that they want a streamlined installation process and carrier-grade reliability.
The company has also partnered with storage provider NetApp, as well as telecommunications cloud provider eNovance, to advance some core OpenStack technologies.
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OpenStack "is not a science experiment any more. We're talking real workloads that require predictable enterprise capabilities," said Radhesh Balakrishnan, Red Hat general manager for virtualization and OpenStack.
The company has released a beta version of the next version of its OpenStack distribution, Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform 5.0, that includes the latest version of OpenStack, called Icehouse, which was released last month. It also includes a beta of RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) 7, the next version of Red Hat's flagship operating platform. Customers will be able to use the OpenStack distribution on either RHEL 6 or RHEL 7.
Icehouse features a number of new capabilities and Red Hat has also included some tools to ease installation and configuration.
A new OpenStack feature called instance groups allows administrators to set policies specifying where VMs (virtual machines) can be placed within a cloud deployment. A group of VMs can be placed on a single server, or spread out across multiple servers for improving performance or reliability.
The backup API (application programming interface) for the OpenStack Cinder block storage controller has been updated to import and export database metadata, which is crucial for recovering databases in a disaster scenario.
The new OpenStack can now work with Layer 2-level networks, thanks to a plug-in for the OpenStack Neutron virtual networking component. The plug-in can speed operations by allowing network traffic to bypass software switches. The plug-in also includes a driver for the OpenDaylight SDN (software defined networking) platform. That sets the stage for NFV (Network Functions Virtualization) technologies, which virtualize network node functions so they can be controlled in groups.
Red Hat will also package a new installer for OpenStack, called Foreman, which can be used to automate repetitive tasks. It comes with a wizard-style user interface to further ease deployments.
Red Hat is not alone in quickly packaging Icehouse for commercial grade usage. Hewlett-Packard has launched its own OpenStack distribution based on Icehouse, called Helion. Fellow Linux distributor Canonical also packaged Icehouse in its latest Linux server distribution, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS (Long Term Support).
In addition to releasing the beta version of its OpenStack distribution, Red Hat also announced a number of partnerships that may also make OpenStack more appealing to the enterprise.