Driving OpenStack Interoperability

Every month, our customers and prospects ask us about OpenStack interoperability. After all, OpenStack is one of the largest open source projects out there, with more than 30,000 contributors, and many organizations are evaluating, testing or using OpenStack in ways where interoperability is critical.

There are hundreds of vendors providing OpenStack solutions, and many organizations are naturally interested in ensuring that different OpenStack implementations work well together. At Rackspace, interoperability is key to our customers’ success, so in this post, we’ll help clarify our approach to interoperability so you can gain a better understanding of the way it works.

Defining OpenStack interoperability

OpenStack interoperability begins with the question, “Is it OpenStack?” Any company wishing to use the OpenStack trademarked logo must first pass OpenStack interoperability guidelines that are defined by the OpenStack Interop Working Group. Initial OpenStack interoperability guidelines were published in March of 2015. Since then, many companies use the guidelines to certify their products.

Currently, there are three different programs that apply to products containing OpenStack software. Later this year, the Interop Working Group will add additional programs. Current programs are:

  1. OpenStack Powered Compute, for compute specific products. An example might be a private or public cloud that offers the capability to create VMs but does not offer OpenStack object storage (Swift) capabilities.
  2. The second program is OpenStack Powered Object Storage, for products that offer object storage based on Swift.
  3. The third program is OpenStack Powered Platform, which includes both of the previous programs. Rackspace OpenStack Private Cloud is an example of an OpenStack Powered Platform.

In order to certify OpenStack interoperability and receive the OpenStack logo from the OpenStack Foundation, vendors must pass a series of OpenStack Interoperability guidelines as defined on the OpenStack website.

  1. Passing the guideline requirements consists of running Tempest tests, which verify that the API calls on the specific OpenStack products are working as expected.
  2. Running required tests is made simple by using RefStack client, an OpenStack project created just for this purpose.
  3. Once the vendor runs the tests, the results are submitted to the OpenStack Foundation for verification.
  4. Once verified, a vendor’s cloud, distribution or other product can call itself OpenStack and display an OpenStack logo.

Without this process, OpenStack configurations would vary wildly between different products, making OpenStack harder to consume. Clouds that pass these guidelines are easier for users to consume since they follow a standard for which APIs must be exposed. The guidelines also help by providing additional benefit of knowing that the OpenStack cloud you pick will not lock you into a unicorn version of a cloud.

As more enterprises switch to private or hybrid clouds due to hidden costs they encounter with some public cloud deployments, it’s more important than ever to make sure your cloud is OpenStack certified.

When shopping for an OpenStack solution, please ask your provider which version of certification they have passed. The most recent one is 2017.01, and 2017.08 will be released in August of 2017. It’s important to make sure the OpenStack cloud capability you’re looking at is using the 2017.01 or 2016.08 guideline. Anything older than that means the cloud in question is running older versions of OpenStack.

Why is interoperability important in a private cloud?

Interoperability ensures the minimum standard for your OpenStack cloud. Not only does it guarantee no-lock in, it also guarantees that your cloud is certified by the OpenStack Foundation. Ensuring your cloud has the OpenStack certified badge also means that:

  • Your cloud has a future. Being certified means the cloud you are running is following at least the minimum of OpenStack interoperability and won’t diverge from accepted norms.
  • Workloads running on one OpenStack cloud are portable to other OpenStack clouds, avoiding lock-in.
  • Your cloud plays well with others, you could potentially run your application on several different OpenStack clouds and expect the same behavior from all.

Upcoming changes to the guidelines

Currently, only projects considered “core” within OpenStack are part of the interoperability guidelines. These projects include compute (Nova), authentication (Keystone), network (Neutron), block storage (Cinder), images (Glance) and object storage (Swift).

It’s worth noting that the Interop Working Group is changing the program to allow for certifying additional projects that otherwise would not be able to make it into the “core” of OpenStack. The new guidelines would allow smaller projects, such as OpenStack DNS (Designate) to be certified under an “add-on” provision. The add-on programs would have to meet their own interop guidelines, however, these additional add-on projects are optional — and don’t affect existing interoperability program certifications. But knowing that an additional project is certified benefits users by highlighting additional features available in that particular OpenStack cloud.

Additionally, the Interop Working Group is working on creating OpenStack programs that would work well with adjacent technologies. One of the first such vertical programs would be “NFV Ready OpenStack”. The Interop Working Group is working with the OPNFV community to define parameters.

OpenStack by itself is great, but it really shines when it’s combined with other open source projects. We hope that creating these official vertical certification programs will highlight the strengths of working together. NFV, PaaS, containers and other technologies already run on OpenStack, and the new certification programs will provide additional verification on the strength and stability of OpenStack.

Rackspace has been involved in the Interop Working Group (formerly DefCore Committee) since the early days of DefCore. I myself have been co-chairing the working group as an OpenStack board representative for the last three years. To find out more about OpenStack Interoperability, please refer to the website.


For over 17 years, Rackspace has worked with numerous companies as they modernize their IT. Rackspace OpenStack Private Cloud was the first cloud to receive an OpenStack Interoperability certification, and we understand your journey requires a tailor-made solution, leveraging existing capabilities when necessary, in order to ensure the best result. We deliver a fully interoperable OpenStack private cloud as a service, either in a Rackspace data center, customer data center, or third party data center.

To learn more and ask questions about whether private cloud as a service might be a good fit for your organization, take advantage of a free strategy session with a private cloud expert — no strings attached. SIGN UP NOW.

Egle Sigler is a Principal Architect of Private Cloud Solutions at Rackspace, and an OpenStack Foundation Board member. As part of OpenStack Board, Egle is Co-Chair of Interop Working Group. Egle is very passionate about promoting women in technology. She has served for two years on a governing board for POWER (Professional Organization of Women Empowered at Rackspace), Rackspace’s internal employee resource group dedicated to empowering women in technology. Egle holds a M.S. degree in Computer Science, and is a published author.


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