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OpenStack Grizzly adds scale, storage options. Now, bring on the users

With the new release, OpenStack continues to add features and perks to its cloud infrastructure stack. What it needs to start showing now is real end-user customers outside the tech bubble. Article by Barb Darrow.OpenStack, the open-source cloud stack backed by nearly every tech vendor you can name, remains a work in progress, but the latest, seventh release dubbed “Grizzly” addresses some key pain points.

Bring your own hybervisor

For one thing, it adds support for VMware ESX and “especially” Microsoft Hyper-V hypervisors, said Jonathan Bryce, executive director of the OpenStack Foundation. Up till now OpenStack was largely KVM and XEN focused. Microsoft — one of the few non-OpenStack companies left — helped with HyperV. And VMware, which had been another OpenStack holdout but joined the effort last summer, helped with ESX, said OpenStack COO Mark Collier. Support for multiple hypervisors was a key customer request, both execs said. Grizzly also attacks (pardon the pun) scalability with a new “Cells” capability that lets customers manage multiple OpenStack compute environments as a single unit. “You expose a single API endpoint and a single control system but underneath that can be a whole nest of clusters,” Bryce said in an interview. And, a new “NoDB” architecture manages how data is shared within an OpenStack environment and reduces reliance on a single database. Grizzly also expands block storage options. “You can now create OpenStack block storage service that sits in your datacenter in front of your high-performance storage, your archival storage, your spinning disks and lets you intelligently put your work on different types of storage arrays as needed,” Bryce said. There is also better drivers and support for storage from Ceph, Coraid, HP, Huawei, IBM, NetApp, Red Hat (Gluster), SolidFire and Zadara. And a new dashboard is there to expose and manage all these new features. The code is available now, two weeks in advance of the OpenStack Summit in Portland, Ore. As usual, the foundation touted the number of new contributors to this release — 517, up 56 percent from the last Folsom release.

Wanted: real-world OpenStack users

Here’s the thing though: What folks need to start seeing is real-live end users at companies beyond the tech vendors that support OpenStack as part of their cloud offerings. To claim Cisco/Webex as an OpenStack user does not hold the same weight as saying a huge bank is or a consumer packaged goods company is a customer. To date, Disney has been one charter end user. At this year’s show, Comcast, the country’s largest cable company and an OpenStack member and Best Buy will present case studies. The other — possibly related — concern is that myriad OpenStack implementations — from Rackspace, HP, IBM, Internap, Cloudscaling, Red Hat, Nebula, Canonical et al — may not be fully compatible with each other. After all, the pressure will be on for HP to offer features and perks that distinguish its OpenStack cloud from IBM or Red Hat’s OpenStack clouds. Foundation members assure the world that will not be so, but doubts remain. Many companies are kicking the tires of OpenStack as an alternative or additional cloud to Amazon Web Services. GigaOM Pro Analyst David Linthicum sees three pools of potential OpenStack adopters: companies looking to deploy a private cloud; companies that don’t want to move to AWS; and companies that “think they’re protecting themselves by leveraging a standard.” He added: ”The key concern about OpenStack, as with other standards, is that the providers will move off into their own proprietary directions and thus hurt compatibility. Clearly most of them won’t wait for the standard to mature to get to the features their users and the market demands. New releases, such as Grizzly, will curtail some of that, but there is not a chance that the standard will move as fast as the distribution providers need them to move.”
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