OpenStack Havana rolls out networking, orchestration, and metering upgrades

New version of free, open source IaaS includes many changes -- and steeper adoption curve than Amazon's cloud

Cloud computing infrastructure project OpenStack's new release, "Havana," its eighth major release overall, emerged from beta today with a wealth of new features. Many of those are courtesy of -- and will in turn power -- several major IT vendors, but it's unlikely any of those changes will make OpenStack more readily adoptable compared to out-of-the-box offerings from the likes of Amazon.

OpenStack has generally become the way for an enterprise to create its own private cloud solution, but its sprawl and complexity have been daunting. Vendor interest in OpenStack hasn't necessarily translated into broader interest in the three years it's been around. And since most of the changes to OpenStack in Havana are incremental -- lots of little details here and there, as opposed to a few big game-changers -- the song remains mostly the same. But the alterations do show major technical additions coming in courtesy of OpenStack's roster of big-name contributors.

Networking: The previous release of OpenStack, "Grizzly," had load-balancing functionality, but Havana expands on it and adds firewall as a service on top of the previous load balancing as a service. Apparently many of these new networking features were contributed courtesy of VMware, inspired in part by work done in its vShield endpoint protection product.

Another major addition to the networking component, a plug-in named Modular Layer 2 (ml2 for short), allows OpenStack's networking to work with the layer 2 technologies found in most data centers -- such as Open vSwitch-- and can work with a variety of drivers for network hardware.

Orchestration: This buzzword comes up a lot in cloud-building circles; OpenStack contributor IBM describes it as "automation + integration + best practices." OpenStack sports a component named Heat, a new addition to Havana, that can talk to other components through their APIs and use templates to organize how they're put together and how they behave.

One possible point of comparison for Heat is Amazon CloudFormations, in that each can be used to create behavioral templates for cloud apps. In fact, Heat accepts files in the AWS CloudFormation template format and integrates with common automation tools like Puppet and Chef, so it's right in line with the existing toolset and APIs that folks building clouds in Amazon already know.

Metering: One problem with creating a cloud is keeping tabs on it, whether you're charging others for the privilege of using it or gathering performance statistics for your own use. Havana features a metering and data-collection framework (code-named "Ceilometer"), originally devised for customer billing but since expanded to include functions like alerting, for a broad range of data-collection drivers for various big data systems (HBase, MongoDB).

It's clear OpenStack is still designed most for those who already want it, rather than those who are looking for a convenient alternative to paying an Amazon tithe. Some of the easy customers for OpenStack include those already on a solution created by one of OpenStack's contributors. To wit: One of the project contributors that came somewhat late to the party but has since become one of the biggest supporters, Red Hat, has put together its own OpenStack distribution as part and parcel of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. And IBM and Rackspace (the latter being OpenStack's creator) want to make OpenStack the platform of choice for clouds among their customers.

What'll be harder to muster, though, is a real disruption of Amazon's ease of adoption and convenience of use. It's good that OpenStack hasn't stood still, but its bag-of-tools approach means its delivery as a product, rather than a framework, remains in the hands of others.

This story, "OpenStack Havana rolls out networking, orchestration, and metering upgrades," was originally published at 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 on Twitter.


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