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What is OpenStack?

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OpenStackWe all agree that security and standards are the top two key elements for any kind of software and hardware deployments, including the ones based on cloud computing technologies.

There are innumerable ways that cloud solutions are currently being deployed that result in inconsistent and incompatible deployments. This not only confuses clients who are looking for reliable cloud solutions but also impedes the development and adoption of cloud. Like all other widespread technologies, cloud computing can also benefit from standards, especially from widely adopted open standards.

We have an incredible body of work done already in this regard by Cloud Standards Customer Council, OpenStack, OASIS, TOSCA (Topology and Orchestration Specification for Cloud Applications), IDCloud (Identity in the Cloud), W3C (Linked Data), OSLC (Open Services for Lifecycle Collaboration) and others. These standards are applicable for hardware, software and application deployments on cloud.

But OpenStack seems to stand out. Let’s take a look at it and see why everyone is talking about it.

High standards and growing numbers

Many organizations and technologists are flocking to adopt OpenStack standards, including IBM, which announced that it would offer its cloud software and services based on OpenStack standards. This is definitely a significant decision.

Originally OpenStack was launched jointly by Rackspace Hosting and NASA as an open source cloud initiative in July 2010. It was an effort to develop a standard hardware platform for cloud computing services. It seems to have taken off slowly but steadily.

Fast forward to the present day and it is now managed by the OpenStack Foundation, a nonprofit corporate entity. There has been an exponential growth and significant market momentum created by OpenStack since its public availability in September 2012. Its ecosystem is growing incredibly—the number of corporate sponsors rose from 150 to over 900 and the number of individual developers to greater than 10,000. OpenStack seems to fit market needs for cloud standards through open cloud architecture.

So, what is OpenStack?

OpenStack is a not-for-profit cloud computing organization that offers an open source cloud computing platform for infrastructure as a service (IaaS) for both public and private clouds of all sizes. OpenStack architecture is modular, focuses on providing the compute, network and storage component resources for customer deployments and monitors all services through a dashboard.

  • OpenStack Compute helps to provision and manage very large virtual networks.
  • OpenStack Networking provides network management of cross-pollinated application programming interfaces (APIs) and Internet Protocols (IPs).
  • OpenStack Storage provides two types of storage options, Object (cost effective and scalable) and Block (performance and integration driven).
  • OpenStack Dashboard provides a web-based administrative interface for accessing, provisioning and automated orchestration of resources.

It is a simple architecture that can accelerate cloud adoption. It makes no proprietary software and hardware recommendations, which is nice, so clients do not have to suffer a vendor lock-in. They can continue to leverage their cross-vendor investments in software, hardware and existing systems. This flexibility is a much-needed aspect, and I support it.

In my years in the technology industry, I have seen many modular architectures, some very strong and some ephemeral. So why is OpenStack’s architecture so significant? It truly seems to have the greatest momentum in the market. It seems to be the shining star of cloud computing! And it seems to have a vision to be truly open to provide true interoperability and portability to cloud computing. I will take that any day!

Right now for cloud computing, it is incredibly important to have a library of design and deployment patterns to refer to, to rely on a supporting community, to evaluate and repeat successful cloud deployments and to have an architecture that is simple to adhere to.

I have joined the thousands of individuals in support of OpenStack in the hope that it will significantly support big data deployments on cloud, which have massive compute, networking, storage and scalability needs.

I plan to closely monitor OpenStack’s evolution and its adoption, hopefully by many of my clients in the coming years. What is your opinion of OpenStack? Please leave a comment below.

Learn more about cloud in our series: Cloud 101

How does cloud computing work?

Cloud computing basics

What is platform as a service (PaaS)?

What is infrastructure as a service (IaaS)?

What is hybrid cloud

Top 7 most common uses of cloud computing

Is cloud computing secure?

What is dynamic cloud?

How to explain cloud to your spouse

What is mobile cloud computing?

Watson Delivery Solution Architect

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