I recently attended a week of presentations about OpenStack, looking to get a deeper understanding of what it is all about and why it’s important.
Here’s what I learned. An OpenStack cloud is driven by a collection of open source software that allows organizations to build and manage cloud environments via the OpenStack API. The underlying software comprises core services (such as Nova, Neutron and Cinder) and optional services (such as Horizon, Magnum and Heat).
Like much open source software, you simply deploy what you need and nothing more. Since the software is open source, it’s driven by a large community of developers and maintainers, a number of whom are fellow IBMers I was lucky enough to meet and hear from during the week.
OpenStack is an important part of the cloud landscape, since it provides a common, open standard through its API and allows portability between cloud environments.
The move to hybrid cloud
In a world where business is increasingly seeing the value of hybrid cloud, a common API which enables the IT department to deploy services across a number of suppliers and manage them from a single pane of glass is imperative. One of the biggest mind shifts that hybrid cloud has introduced is that all of an organization’s IT eggs no longer need to be in one basket, as was often the case with the traditional hosting services model. Instead, the enterprise can host and manage its IT in the locations which derive the greatest business value, however the organization chooses to measure it.
Consistent deployment and management tooling is key to successfully maintaining a hybrid cloud. An IT department that needs to develop multiple orchestration scripts to deploy even a simple service, let alone complex ones, will soon become inefficient. Nobody wants to deploy multiple management and monitoring systems.
The OpenStack API has become a standard for the industry because it enables tooling to access multiple environments and for the IT department to take a “build once, deploy anywhere” approach. Avoiding lock-in is important to the enterprise and it’s good for the cloud industry as a whole. It encourages innovation and competition between providers who can demonstrate that switching will give a competitive edge. Open standards make this possible.
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