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Updated OpenStack products lack simplicity IT pros crave

Numerous OpenStack products were introduced or got a facelift this week, but IT pros say OpenStack still needs to be easier to deploy.

Despite a smorgasbord of new OpenStack products, the open source cloud management platform must become simpler to increase adoption.

Red Hat Inc. updated its CloudForms software (based on its acquisition of ManageIQ last year) to allow it to manage OpenStack and Amazon Web Services workloads, while Dell Inc. said the University of Alabama at Birmingham has used its Crowbar tool to install OpenStack in its research computing division. Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) also launched a new management console for its OpenStack-based public cloud based on OpenStack Havana's Horizon module, amid a number of similar product announcements from IT vendors this week.

But IT pros said that while the third-party support shows OpenStack has gained momentum in the industry, fundamental problems with the platform must be solved.

What end users really want from OpenStack-based clouds is Application as a Service, said Kyle Bassett, a consultant with Toronto-based Archestration, which has enterprise clients evaluating OpenStack.

"People want to go to a self-service portal and not have to deal with the unit of measurement of a virtual machine," Bassett said. "OpenStack is not really delivering that yet, and I don't know if it ever will."

Multiple clouds in one console

Red Hat's CloudForms 3.0 now allows for the management of multiple clouds under one software console, and can be used to apply policies to disparate clouds as well. Red Hat's RDO OpenStack distribution also includes a command-line-based installation package called Packstack, which can be used to install each of OpenStack's components, from Nova compute nodes to Neutron networking and Swift object storage.

CloudForms also has chargeback features, which one Red Hat value-added reseller (VAR) said will appeal to enterprise customers.

"I've had multiple clients that have struggled with the chargeback model," said Ryan Murray, owner of Red Hat VAR Sintre Technologies LLC, based in Dallas, Texas. "You have IT buying all these powerful machines, but how do you divvy up the price to each business department?"

Still, there's a big learning curve to getting OpenStack up and running, Murray said.

"It's not a turnkey solution, you're essentially creating from the infrastructure up the building blocks to create a private cloud," he said. "It's not like [Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization], where I can just install a couple hypervisors and a management server."

More OpenStack products from around the world

Other OpenStack product announcements this week include:

  • AMD's SeaMicro SM15000 server supports bare-metal features in OpenStack Compute.  
  • Arista Networks Inc. introduced the Arista 7000 X Series. The Arista 7300 and Arista 7250 offer control of virtualized networks and improved power efficiency.
  • Cisco released UCS Solution Accelerator Paks focused on compute-intensive, mixed-deployment and storage-intensive workload configurations in OpenStack.
  • DreamHost will debut a Havana-based version of its DreamCompute public cloud service.
  • GigaSpaces launched a new service, Cloudify Application Catalog, which provides a single-click deployment experience for running a variety of services on the HP Public Cloud.
  • Gridcentric Inc.'s Reactor for OpenStack is a scale-out virtualization technology that allows users to automatically scale OpenStack apps, and is now open sourced under the Apache 2.0 license. Gridcentric also announced Veta, a backup manager for OpenStack.
  • Inktank's Ceph Enterprise, a new subscription offering, includes the most stable version of open source Ceph for object and block storage, with a graphical manager, integration tools and support services.
  • Midokura and Pluribus Networks announced Neutron network virtualization plug-ins.
  • ProphetStor Data Services Inc. emerged from stealth mode and announced the release of ProphetStor FederatorTM software-defined storage.
  • Radware's Alteon application delivery controller now provides Load Balancing as a Service (LBaaS) built into the Havana version of OpenStack's Neutron LBaaS driver.
  • The new Seagate Kinetic Open Storage platform allows applications to speak directly to Seagate storage devices via a key/value API -- which will be open sourced -- and Ethernet connectivity.
  • SolidFire updated its solid-state drive products to include a volume extension capability, more flexible volume and tenant management features, and a Cinder backup service option.
  • Solinea, an OpenStack software and services company, added OpenStack Training Services, ranging from single-day OpenStack basics to one-week architecture and installation courses.
  • Stacklabs Inc. also released a virtual training platform.
  • Stackinsider Technology released a public and free Deployment as a Service cloud platform for OpenStack.
  • UnitedStack Inc., based in China, announced the first release of UOS (UnitedStack OS), a cloud operating system based on the OpenStack Havana release.

Beth Pariseau is senior news writer for SearchCloudComputing. Write to her at or follow @PariseauTT on Twitter.

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