The OpenStack Grizzly (2013.1) open source cloud platform is set for official release on April 4th, and enterprise Linux leader Red Hat will be among its biggest backers.
While Red Hat may not have been an early adopter of the open source OpenStack cloud platform when it was first launched by Rackspace and NASA in 2010, Red Hat did publicly jump into the OpenStack community in 2012 and has since become one of its leading contributors.
Mark McLoughlin, Technical Lead for Red Hat's OpenStack team, told ServerWatch that a key highlight of the Grizzly release is the simple fact that it continues to advance code stability and maturity.
"Like clockwork, every 6 months delivers the predictable, incremental improvement the project needs for continued success," McLoughlin said. "From our deep experience with open source, we know this is the mark of a healthy project that's going to be around for the long-term."
Having OpenStack around for the long term isn't just about being a good open source citizen for Red Hat. OpenStack could well become the next big business opportunity for Red Hat at some point in the future.
Red Hat recently reported its fiscal 2013 earnings, which hit $1.3 Billion. During Red Hat's earnings call, CEO Jim Whitehurst noted that over the next four or five years the OpenStack market could be bigger than Linux.
Red Hat is just one of many contributors to the growing ecosystem of OpenStack vendors and developers. The OpenStack Foundation includes many of the world's leading IT organizations, including IBM, HP, Dell, SUSE, Cisco, Intel, VMware, Yahoo, NEC and AT&T, among others.
"We continue to be truly excited by the growth and maturation of the development community itself," McLoughlin said. "480 contributors made 7,620 updates in the Grizzly release. That's an astonishing statistic for any project, nevermind a project started less than three years ago."
OpenStack as a platform is made up of a number of projects. The Nova compute project is at the core and benefits from numerous improvements in the Grizzly release.
"Nova is obviously one of more central projects in OpenStack, and our developers invest a lot of their time in improving this project across the board," McLoughlin said. "In Grizzly we put a lot of time into completing the no-db-compute work, which decouples Nova compute nodes from Nova's database to enable rolling of upgrades of these nodes."
The de-coupling of the database from Nova is actually also a high impact security fix in the Grizzly release. Prior to Grizzly, Nova had its own direct database access, which is not a best practice for modern security. A bug was filed for this flaw very early in the life of the OpenStack project.
"If an attacker successfully exploits a flaw in the hypervisor (as have been found in KVM and XEN in the past), the attacker can easily tamper with the MySQL database, wreaking havoc on the OpenStack Cloud," the bug description states.
Grizzly will also include a new preview feature called "cells." The basic idea behind cells is that compute clusters (cells) can all be managed by a single Nova API, enabling a new level of scalability.
"If you look at the new Cells capability introduced in Nova, you get a real sense that OpenStack is going down a path where it will have the ability to scale like no other solution out there," McLoughlin said.
He added that his company also invests in improving compliment technologies that are important to Red Hat. For example, Red Hat did a lot of work in Grizzly on improving the libvirt/kvm driver, integrating GlusterFS and adding support for the SPICE display protocol.
Quantum and Cinder
One of the major new efforts that landed in the OpenStack Folsom release was the inclusion of the Quantum networking project that debuted in September 2012.
"The Quantum team has done an awesome job of closing some of its gaps compared to Nova's existing networking capabilities and has also forged ahead in adding entirely new capabilities like the management of load balancers," McLoughlin said.
The Cinder block storage project also debuted in the Folsom release and has similarly matured in Grizzly.
"Cinder has improved its integration with Nova in the area of boot-from-volume and gained a ton of new drivers that support enterprise-class storage offerings," McLoughlin said. "Cinder is one of the newer projects in OpenStack, and we've been particularly focused on helping it mature."
Red Hat is also pushing forward on its GlusterFS technology, which is now integrated with Grizzly as well.
"We see GlusterFS becoming an awesome, unified solution for storage across the board in OpenStack, whether that be the image store, Nova's instance store, block storage or object storage," McLoughlin said.
From an enterprise product perspective, Red Hat does not yet have a generally available OpenStack release on the market, yet. Red Hat did release its first OpenStack Enterprise cloud preview in August 2012.
"The general availability release of Red Hat OpenStack, available later this year, will be based on Grizzly," McLoughlin said.