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OpenStack cloud software hits puberty

Diablo, the fourth release of the open source cloud OS, fills some holes from previous versions, but it still has a way to go.

Even though OpenStack has a long way to go before it's a complete cloud OS, Diablo -- the much anticipated fourth version of the software -- fills in many holes and problems users had. New security capabilities, federation across data centers and high availability features are an important step forward.

[OpenStack Object Storage] has some interesting things we can do to make [it] more flexible and scalable.

Joshua McKenty, CEO and founder, Piston Cloud Computing

In previous versions, the network controllers were a single point of failure but Diablo adds a high-availability (HA) component. "This was crucial for greater stability," said Randy Bias, founder and CEO of CloudScaling. "The reality is Diablo is good to go for private cloud, but it's still missing some capabilities around multi-tenancy that need to be there for public cloud." The next release, codenamed Essex and out next April, should address more public cloud requirements.

OpenStack was good enough for MercadoLibre, Disney, CERN and Wikimedia to deploy in production. MercadoLibre, the largest online trading platform in Latin America, is running OpenStack on hundreds of machines in production, supporting 58 million users. "With OpenStack, our internal users can instantly provision what they need without having to wait for a system administrator," said Alejandro Comisario, infrastructure engineer at MercadoLibre.

"There's a lot that can be done around virtual networking," said Jonathan Bryce, Rackspace cloud co-founder and OpenStack project policy board chairman. Virtual network scalability and mobility are things VMware and Cisco are also working on with the VXLAN project.

OpenStack object storage service has more potential too, according to Joshua McKenty, CEO and founder of Piston Cloud Computing and former technical lead of NASA's Nebula cloud computing software, which formed the cornerstone of the OpenStack project. Called Swift, the service has "some interesting things we can do to make [it] more flexible and scalable," McKenty said. There's no model for tiered storage today, McKenty said, which would open up a lot of options around performance and pricing tiers, especially for public cloud service providers.

Updates to Compute, Storage and Image Service
Diablo adds new features in the areas of computing, image service and storage, including:

  • OpenStack Compute (Nova): New capabilities include a distributed scheduler that allows admins to deploy virtual machines globally and a high-availability networking mode to avoid downtime if a primary server fails. It also supports a new authentication system, OpenStack Identity Management.
  • OpenStack Object Storage (Swift): A multi-cluster container sync allows a user to choose, on a container-by-container basis, which data to replicate to a separate cluster located in multiple geographical locations.
  • OpenStack Image Service (Glance): Updates include new filtering and searching capabilities through the application programming interface (API), a highly requested feature for service providers who support a large number of customers globally.

OpenStack UI and identity management additions
In addition to the three existing projects: OpenStack Compute, Object Storage and Image Service, Diablo introduces two new projects, including a user interface (OpenStack Dashboard) to manage OpenStack services and a unified identity management system (OpenStack Keystone) that makes the cloud work with existing authentication systems. Both projects were introduced in Diablo and will be central to the forthcoming Essex version. A new networking project Quantum, led by Nicira, Cisco, Citrix, Midokura and Rackspace, will be incubated during the Essex release cycle.

  • OpenStack Dashboard: The Dashboard project, led by Nebula Inc., enables administrators and end users to access and provision cloud-based resources through a self-service portal.
  • OpenStack Keystone: Led by Rackspace, Keystone provides unified authentication across all OpenStack projects and integrates with existing, internal authentication systems (LDAP, Microsoft Active Directory).
  • OpenStack Quantum: Provides an API to dynamically request and configure virtual networks; the Quantum API supports extensions to provide more advanced network capabilities.

Jo Maitland is the Senior Executive Editor of Contact her at

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