OpenStack Essex Delivers Cloud Dashboard

by Sean Kerner

Latest open source OpenStack release provides new management, security, storage and compute features.

The open source OpenStack cloud platform is out with its fifth major release today, delivering new features for clouds. OpenStack enjoys the support of more than 150 companies, including big names like Rackspace, Cisco, Dell, AT&T and HP, all of whom are building clouds with OpenStack technology.

The Essex release has a strong focus on cloud stability as a result of a release cycle change to allow for more quality assurance time. The OpenStack Diablo release came out in September 2011 after a six-month release cycle. With Essex, it was again a six-month release cycle, but  the QA time was tripled and the feature freeze was moved to to six weeks before the release to allow extra time for stabilizing.

"We really expanded the QA cycle out in Essex to make thing solid and stable, coming out of this release cycle," Jonathan Bryce, chairman of the Project Policy Board for OpenStack told InternetNews.com. "As result, people have been much happier with the state of where things are."

Among the key innovations in the Essex release is the Horizon OpenStack Dashboard, which provides both administrator and self-service user functionality. The Essex release marks the first full integration of the Dashboard into the OpenStack project.

"As an administrator, you can log in and get the overall picture of your cloud and see the resources that are available and what has been provisioned," Bryce said. "Users can log into Dashboard to provision their own virtual machines, networking and block storage devices."

The Dashboard is also connected to the OpenStack Keystone Identity service which in the Essex release becomes the default identity engine for OpenStack. Keystone now provides authentication across the core OpenStack components.

OpenStack's core components include the Nova compute, Swift storage and Glance image service. Across those components the Essex release also introduces new security features. In Glance there is now the ability to protect an image, and Nova provides a more secure root wrapper. Swift object storage security now benefits with a new feature for expiring storage objects.

"The community is maturing and as we get enterprises that are serious about deploying OpenStack they are paying extra attention and effort to security," Bryce said.

One item that is not yet in the full OpenStack release is the Quantum networking project. Quantum became an incubated project as part of the Diablo release and is currently set for including in the Fall OpenStack release.

"One of the interesting challenges that lies ahead is as we see this massive proliferation of different OpenStack clouds, how the different clouds will connect together," Mark Collier Rackspace vice president of business & corporate development, told InternetNews.com. "You'll start to see an increased focus on making sure the different OpenStack clouds are all really compatible to empower users to move their workloads wherever it makes sense."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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This article was originally published on Thursday Apr 5th 2012
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