OpenStack Newton Debuts With Improved Container Features

Thursday Oct 6th 2016 by Sean Michael Kerner
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The latest release of widely deployed open-source cloud platform improves security, virtualization and networking.

The open-source OpenStack project released OpenStack Newton on Oct. 6, providing the second major milestone update for the cloud platform in 2016.

OpenStack Newton follows the Mitaka release, which debuted in April with a focus on simplifying cloud operations. In contrast, OpenStack Newton provides a long list of incremental updates and improvements, including improved security, container support and networking capabilities.

"One of the themes that we have talked about in the last couple of OpenStack releases is manageability, and there is definitely some work in the new release on that," Jonathan Bryce, executive director of the OpenStack Foundation, told eWEEK. "OpenStack Newton is a bigger feature release for networking and integration across all the different forms of compute, including bare metal, virtualization and containers."

Newton is the first OpenStack release to have a robust connection between the Kuryr container networking project and the Neutron networking project inside of OpenStack, Bryce said. Networking in OpenStack has evolved over the years. It originally was only found in the Nova compute module in an element known as Nova-network. The Neutron project got started in 2011 under the name Quantum; it was renamed in 2013 as Neutron.

While some large deployments of OpenStack continue to rely on Nova-network, Neutron is where most of the development effort is going, according to Bryce. New additions in OpenStack Newton's cycle for Neutron will now make it easier than ever for Nova-network users to migrate to Neutron.

One of the challenges that faced Nova-network users when moving to Neutron was having a base default network configuration available, Bryce said.

"One of the main new features is the 'get me a network' feature that basically provides a default network topology and assigns ports and access to virtual machines," he said. "It's a big feature that helps to reduce the initial complexity of getting Neutron set up."

OpenStack Client, which was a major new element in the OpenStack Mitaka release, also benefits from new Neutron integration. OpenStack Client is a command-line client that unifies access across all the main projects in OpenStack.

"Prior to Newton, OpenStack Client had basic commands for networking, but it wasn't enough to be the default command-line client for Neutron," Bryce said. "A big focus in this release was full Neutron support inside of OpenStack Client."

Security

The OpenStack Newton release also comes with numerous security improvements, most notably in the OpenStack Keystone authentication project. Of particular note is that there is now support for encrypted credentials in Keystone.

Bryce explained that prior to Newton, the credential store in Keystone was thought of more as a development back end, rather than a full production framework. He added that the expectation was that cloud operators would tie in Keystone with an external identity system like LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) or Microsoft Active Directory.

"What we found was that operators were using the Keystone credential store directly," Bryce said. "The changes we made with OpenStack Newton was to make the credential store secure and robust."

The improvements to Keystone now also mean that OpenStack Newton can meet compliance standards including PCI-DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard).

Containers

Container support in OpenStack Newton is improved in multiple ways across different project. The OpenStack Magnum project that debuted in 2015 is among the core container efforts enabling deployment and orchestration of containers.

"What has happened in the last year is that people have deployed Magnum and operators are using it," Bryce said. Rackspace, for example, now bases its Carina container-as-a-service offering on Magnum.

What Magnum has become is a cluster manager for container services, he said. It can be used with Kubernetes, Docker Swam and Apache Mesos container orchestration technologies.

"When you use Magnum, you create clusters that have resources assigned to them and it provisions one of the orchestration technologies onto the cluster," Bryce said. "In OpenStack Newton, there have been updates to extend functionality, with the biggest item being support for bare metal deployments."

The OpenStack Ironic project that enables bare metal resource deployments has been integrated with Magnum-enabling containers to get the performance benefits that bare metal hardware provides.

In the emerging market for container orchestration, competition for workloads has heated up this year with Docker integrating swarm orchestration capabilities into the Docker 1.12 engine. With OpenStack Magnum running inside of an OpenStack Newton platform, an operator can run multiple types of container orchestration, including both Docker Swarm and Kubernetes, on the same cloud.

"Within a single Magnum environment you can have nodes that are running Kubernetes and nodes that are running Docker Swarm," Bryce said. "Magnum itself doesn't schedule containers; it manages the container cluster itself."

Another big set of container improvements lands in OpenStack Newton with the Kuryr project, which is a connector for container networking and OpenStack Neutron networks. With OpenStack Newton it's now possible for an operator to make use of Docker Swarm and Docker's libnetwork container networking, connected to OpenStack Neutron with full isolation for the container traffic. Bryce added that the same thing can now be done with Kubernetes, connected through Kuryr to Neutron, enabling full control over network traffic, isolation and security policies.

Split Development Cycle

The OpenStack Newton release is debuting at an inflection point for OpenStack development as the project is gearing up to change how it handles development summits and the release cycle. The next OpenStack Summit is occurring in Barcelona, Spain, Oct. 25-28.

To date, every OpenStack Summit has also included a Design Summit, where developers gather to talk about the next release. After the Barcelona Summit, a new process will come into place in a bid to accelerate innovation.

"What we're doing is splitting up the Design Summit that would happen at an OpenStack Summit into two parts," Bryce said. "Barcelona will be the last traditional Design Summit."

One of those new parts will be call the OpenStack Forum, which will continue to happen at OpenStack Summits, which occur every six months. The first OpenStack Forum is scheduled for the OpenStack Summit in Boston in May 2017. The goal of the OpenStack Forum is to get developers to look at more strategic requirements and roadmap concepts.

The other part of the Design Summit split will be the new Project Team Gathering (PTG), with the first such event set to occur in February 2017 at the end of the OpenStack Ocata release cycle.

"The PTG will be a very technical and implementation-oriented set of working sessions for developers," Bryce said. "It's really meant for regular contributors that are producing the software to give them focused space to work on hard technical issues."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Originally published on eWeek.
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