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Where OpenStack fits in a hybrid cloud strategy

Interoperability between clouds is a challenge for enterprises adopting hybrid cloud. Open source options such as OpenStack can bridge cloud platform gaps.

The hybrid cloud concept no longer brings outbreaks of fear, uncertainty and doubt among enterprise IT. That doesn’t...

mean IT pros have deployment down pat, but they do know how to get a hybrid cloud up and running. The inherent challenge of a hybrid cloud strategy -- where two clouds interoperate -- is that not all clouds use the same platform. One way to create that seamless bridge between disparate public and private clouds is to use open source technologies such as OpenStack.

OpenStack is an open source development with a huge amount of momentum behind it. And many vendors including HP, Dell, EMC, IBM, Ubuntu, Red Hat and Rackspace are all betting on its open source technology. It supports a future in which enterprises can deploy a variety of clouds from different service providers and pool resources.

However, having so many players involved in the OpenStack game can be a double-edged sword. Vendors have added their own tools to a variety of distributions, but core modules are standardized. And many of the add-on tools are headed into the open source domain.

Tools such as GigaSpace's Cloudify bridge non-OpenStack platforms to a single environment during the transition to an all-OpenStack hybrid cloud. This resolves the internal private cloud integration, but an abstraction layer is needed to integrate with public clouds that will run on proprietary cloud platforms, such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

Red Hat uses Cloud Forms for multi-cloud management between VMWare vSphere, AWS and Azure. Dell Cloud Manager can handle hybrid cloud setups for all major public and private cloud platforms as well, according to the company. But Dell's tool also covers governance, carrying it from the private domain into public clouds.

Gravitant addresses the issue of how to bill out the costs of a dynamically changing usage map while identifying abuses and maintaining governance standards. RightScale is an agile tool that uses templates for cross-cloud management.

OpenStack can only handle cloud federation between OpenStack clouds. Modules were added to the master project list to include portable authentication and software-defined networks with Neutron. Despite some issues caused by different distributions and interpretations in the APIs, these modules are working.

Building hybrid clouds with today’s tools is doable, but not easy. It requires a solid knowledge base of the different cloud platforms involved. Still, the industry is making progress and OpenStack's vision of the "Worldwide Cloud" may be within reach.

About the author:
Jim O'Reilly was Vice President of Engineering at Germane Systems, where he created ruggedized servers and storage for the US submarine fleet. He has also held senior management positions at SGI/Rackable and Verari; was CEO at startups Scalant and CDS; headed operations at PC Brand and Metalithic; and led major divisions of Memorex-Telex and NCR, where his team developed the first SCSI ASIC, now in the Smithsonian. Jim is currently a consultant focused on storage and cloud computing.

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This was last published in December 2014

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Most OpenStack deployments are either Private Cloud, Managed Private Cloud, or focus on Telco/Carrier NFV. Very limited public cloud services running OpenStack (e.g. DreamHost, Rackspace) to help build a Hybrid Cloud with OpenStack. 
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