Cisco releases OpenStack distribution

The company will package other services, including virtual networking and high-availability features, on top of its distribution

Further showing its commitment to the OpenStack project, Cisco has rolled out a free distribution of the open source cloud management platform, which it will package other services on top of, including virtual networking and high-availability features.

Cisco becomes one of a growing group of OpenStack member organizations that have released distributions of the open source code, joining the likes of Linux-distribution companies Red Hat, SUSE, Canonical, and Ubuntu, as well as Rackspace and OpenStack pure-play vendor Piston Cloud Computing. The news comes as OpenStack backers meet this week at the semi-annual OpenStack Summit held in San Diego.

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Cisco VP and CTO of cloud computing Lew Tucker, who is also vice chairman of the newly formed OpenStack Foundation, says the value of the Cisco edition of OpenStack is around services that will be integrated into Cisco's OpenStack distribution, especially virtual networking.

For example, Folsom, which is the latest version of the OpenStack code, includes a new feature named Quantum that allows for virtual networking in OpenStack-powered clouds. Cisco has also made its Nexus switches compatible with Quantum and Tucker says in the coming months Quantum will be compatible with the company's virtualized 1000V Switch. In addition to the software-defined networking capabilities, customers will be able to choose a variety of other features that can be added to OpenStack-powered clouds from Cisco. These include high availability, automated installation, and monitoring of the cloud.

"This is largely in response to customers we're working with," Tucker says. "When we deploy OpenStack into production, there are a lot of other considerations of how to integrate, operate and manage the OpenStack cloud. We've included those as part of reference architectures, scripts, and other important components that customers can use."

Cisco made the announcement in a blog post on Saturday, with links to a site where the Cisco OpenStack edition can be downloaded for free, along with a wiki describing various aspects of the code. Cisco uses a variety of other open source tools on top of the OpenStack code and uses automation tools from Puppet in the release. The Quantum code supports Layer 2 segmentation using virtual LAN technology and works on Open vSwitch and Cisco Nexus switches. The edition has been tested on Ubuntu 12.04 and does not require Cisco hardware to run it.

In addition to the OpenStack distribution, Cisco is making two other announcements at the OpenStack Summit this week. Cisco is using OpenStack code to create a private cloud within the company that will be used specifically by the WebEx team to create products and services. While Tucker wouldn't divulge what new features would be developed using the OpenStack platform, he says those should be revealed in coming months. Cisco wanted to run a production cloud powered by OpenStack in addition to offering a distribution of the OpenStack code. Cisco is also announcing new functionality in its Intelligent Automation for Cloud around being able to manage heterogeneous workloads. The Multi-cloud Accelerator kit will allow management of cloud architectures powered not only by Cisco and OpenStack, but by other third-party clouds, such as those from Amazon and VMware.

Tucker says customer interest in OpenStack is building. Recently the company launched a strategic relationship with Comcast, where the media company will use the Cisco edition of OpenStack as the base for its private cloud. Comcast is a contributing member to the OpenStack Foundation, but is not yet a full-fledged member. Outside of Comcast, Tucker says he's seen the interest from the public sector and government organizations that use it to power internal private clouds.

Network World staff writer Brandon Butler covers cloud computing and social collaboration. He can be reached at and found on Twitter at @BButlerNWW.

This story, "Cisco releases OpenStack distribution" was originally published by Network World.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.