OpenStack Buying Guide

Posted on October 13, 2015 By Drew Robb


OpenStack is garnering a lot of attention in the enterprise. Let’s review some of the product options out there in this buying guide. Note that there are many more than this. What we cover here is just a sampling. 

OpenStack Distributions and Cloud Platforms

As OpenStack is an open source project, you have the usual set up of their being a community version, which is worked on by many vendors.

The community version is billed as the open source cloud operating system. It can be used to control large pools of compute, storage, and networking resources. They can be managed through an administrative dashboard while users can be given the ability to provision resources through a web interface.

In addition to the community edition, various vendors offer their own version of OpenStack. These typically come with add-on services, support and tools. But it gets a little muddy at times between what is an actual software distribution and what simply uses OpenStack as the foundation for a cloud platform. For the sake of simplicity, therefore, we will lump them together.

HP Helion is said to combine Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) into one offering for cloud workloads. It includes tools for accelerated application development, deployment and portability, and ease of administration. 

Mirantis claims its OpenStack cloud is deployed by more users than any other. The latest version provides a choice of hypervisor, as well as hypervisors from multiple vendors in a single cloud, and the ability to create larger scale clouds.

Ubuntu by Canonical is another claiming to be the most popular distribution. Its value-add includes an integrated Ubuntu Server as well as tools to deploy, manage and scale the cloud.

VMware Integrated OpenStack is a production grade OpenStack distribution that works on top of VMware Virtual SAN. It provides multiple storage services for block, image, object and shared Storage-as-a-Service, as well as the ability to mix and match various storage technologies and vendors such SAN, NAS and DAS in a single abstraction.

Rackspace  The Rackspace Private Cloud powered by OpenStack is a managed private cloud that can be hosted at Rackspace or deployed on premises. It includes a 99.99% OpenStack API uptime guarantee, and includes support for both block (Cinder) and object (Swift) storage.

“Rackspace Private Cloud powered by OpenStack enables users to take advantage of existing storage environments (e.g., EMC, NetApp) while also implementing a less expensive open source storage solution like Swift or Linux LVM,” said Darrin Hanson, Vice President & GM of Rackspace Private Cloud. “In the dual storage solution model, sensitive data can be stored through existing EMC or NetApp solutions that provide global replication, while other data can be stored at a lower cost in the open source storage solution.”

Red Hat As would be expected from the world’s largest open source vendor, Red Hat has plenty going on in this area. The Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform acts as a scalable and secure foundation for a private or public cloud. It integrates with the Red Hat Enterprise Linux OS.

Further distributions of note include SwiftStack, SUSE Cloud, though there are many others.

OpenStack Storage Tools

Red Hat, too, offers storage tools that either use OpenStack or integrate with it. Ceph, for example, is a distributed storage back-end for virtual machines that scales out and is tightly integrated with OpenStack Cinder, Nova & Glance, said Ross Turk, director of product marketing, Storage, Red Hat.

In addition, Red Hat Gluster Storage includes capabilities from the OpenStack community’s Manila project. Expanding the options for hybrid cloud storage, Red Hat Gluster Storage provides a scale-out shared file system service for OpenStack cloud infrastructures. 

“Red Hat led the development of OpenStack Manila’s NFS-Ganesha component which abstracts Manila file shares from underlying hardware and allows them to grow, shrink or migrate across physical resources,” said Turk. “With Red Hat Gluster Storage and NFS-Ganesha, storage servers can be added or removed from the system dynamically and the data remains online while the system re-balances across the available hardware.”

IBM is another vendor heavily invested in OpenStack. According to Vincent Hsu, CTO, IBM Storage, all products within the IBM Spectrum Storage Portfolio (IBM Spectrum Scale, IBM Spectrum Accelerate, IBM Spectrum Virtualize, IBM Spectrum Protect and IBM Spectrum Control) support OpenStack, as do IBM Enterprise Storage products such as XIV, Storwize and DS8K. 

“IBM leads in contributions to OpenStack’s Block Storage project codenamed Cinder,” said Hsu. “Recent quality improvements were made to volume migration, volume replication and lazy translation, as well as a new FlashSystem volume driver, and support for IBM Spectrum Scale, Storwize, San Volume Controller and XIV/DS8k drivers.”

IBM also contributes Storlet technology to the OpenStack Swift community to enable better processing capability for Swift object storage. This extends the OpenStack Swift object store with the capability of computing near the data in a secure and isolated manner using Docker containers.

“Using Storlets, users can write, package and deploy code to filter, transform and adapt content as an object is read and written,” said Hsu. “This provides an innovative framework combining object stores with analytics, filtering and transformation functions, thereby producing an optimized platform enabling advanced object store use-cases.”

NexentaEdge is said to deliver high performance block and object storage services as well as scalability to OpenStack clouds, petabyte-scale active archives and Big Data applications. According to Oscar Wahlberg, Director of Product Management at Nexenta, it runs on shared-nothing clusters of Linux servers, and builds on Nexenta IP and Cloud Copy On Write (CCOW) technology.

EMC (recently under agreement to be acquired by Dell) is another player in the OpenStack universe. The EMC OpenStack Reference Architecture Partner Program has been launched as part of its move closer towards the open source software model and software defined storage. According to the President of EMC’s Emerging Technologies Division CJ Desai, the company’s Caspian release enables compute to scale independently of storage and vice versa. This includes management capabilities designed to operationalize OpenStack and Big Data.

“Caspian helps you implement OpenStack more easily, and includes management and reporting,” said Desai.

In addition, Canonical and EMC are collaborating to extend the Ubuntu OpenStack Partner ecosystem with the Software-Defined Storage automation capabilities from the EMC ViPR Controller. 

“EMC has embraced OpenStack through contributions to the community, active participation in the OpenStack Foundation and working closely with our customers who are deploying and operating OpenStack clouds,” said Randy Bias, Vice President of Technology, Emerging Technologies Division, EMC. “We are investing in OpenStack-centric solutions within our portfolio and through partnerships in our OpenStack Reference Architecture Program.”

Intel Intel is another big supporter of OpenStack. It doesn’t make an OpenStack product, but believes it is a cornerstone of open source orchestration for cloud workloads and characterized it as a critical component of Intel’s delivery of Software Defined Infrastructure (SDI), according to Imad Sousou, Vice President and GM of the Open Source Technology Center in the Software and Services Group at Intel. 

Intel engineers recently demonstrated the optimization of both VM and container-based workloads running in OpenStack environments utilizing Intel Cloud Integrity Technology (CIT) to deliver a hardware root of trust and attestation for workloads at rest and in flight across a cloud environment. 

“CIT helps address enterprise requirements for meeting security SLAs while moving to OpenStack,” said Sousou. 

As we mentioned earlier, the above listings barely scratch the surface. You can view more choices for OpenStack distributions, products, services, Appliances and public clouds at OpenStack Marketplace.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

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