Easing the Use of OpenStack, One API at a Time

As OpenStack continues to see increased adoption from startups to the enterprise, one of its remaining barriers — its perceived complexity — is being tackled head on.

Mitaka, OpenStack’s 13th release, is focused primarily on the platform’s increased manageability, scalability and a better overall user experience — essentially, things that allow more people to use OpenStack with fewer complications.

This push was due in large part to the efforts of the OpenStack API Working Group, which used the Mitaka cycle to focus specifically on easing the use of OpenStack APIs for developers and engineers.

Working group member and Rackspace Developer Advocate Everett Toews, who will take part in the API Working Group Mitaka Cycle Roundup at next week’s OpenStack Summit, was recently interviewed in SuperUser, where he discussed some of the successes (and challenges) he and his colleagues faced while working on the Mitaka release.

As he mentions in the interview, Toews says the increased use of OpenStack has created a critical mass of developers and engineers interested in automating their application deployments.

If the OpenStack community is to capitalize on this momentum, he says, they need to “provide a better developer experience so that people genuinely enjoy working with OpenStack clouds.”

But when it comes to using APIs, Toews says, three big challenges remain: consistency, design and documentation.

“Simply trying to make sense of the different ways of doing the same thing across various APIs isn’t easy,” he says. “For example, there is the concept of metadata, versioning and pagination in various APIs but they all implement it a little differently.”

One of the ways the working group addressed this issue was by creating and holding to a set of guidelines OpenStack projects should follow for new development, which promote the convergence of new APIs and future versions of existing APIs.

“As OpenStack projects begin to follow the guidelines, they create consistent, well designed and well-documented APIs,” Toews says.

At next week’s summit, Toews will join working group members Michael McCune, a developer at Red Hat Inc. and Chris Dent, a principal software engineer at Mirantis, to discuss more of the progress they made during the Mitaka cycle.

In addition to the implementation of the guidelines mentioned above, they’ll speak about cross-project interactions and offer a retrospective on what has worked well and where things could be improved.

They’ll also offer details on future plans, particularly with regards to promoting guideline usage and engaging more people in the working group itself.

If you’re interested in improving OpenStack’s APIs, this is a must-attend session. Things kick off on Monday, April 25 at 2pm at the Hilton Austin (Level 6, Salon J).

Want to learn more about Mitaka? Check out info provided by the OpenStack Foundation as well as this presentation on its key themes, and this demo of the new Horizon cloud dashboard,

Are you attending the OpenStack Summit in Austin? Visit us at the Rackspace booth in the Expo Hall, check out our expert speakers and then get some R&R at the Rackspace Cantina across the street from the convention center.

Toews will also be hosting a tech talk at the Cantina called “Effective Docker Swarm,” from 3:45-4:30 on Tuesday.

Swarm is Docker’s answer to clustering by treating a group of Docker hosts as a single host. It uses the native Docker API so you can use the whole ecosystem of Docker tooling with it. If you’re already familiar with Docker, you can take everything you’ve already learned and immediately apply it to Swarm. If you’re unfamiliar with Docker, it’s very easy to get started.

But after getting started, what are the best ways to use Swarm effectively? Come check it out to find out more. And stay tuned to the Rackspace Blog for more OpenStack content!

Rack Blogger is our catchall blog byline, subbed in when a Racker author moves on, or used when we publish a guest post. You can email Rack Blogger at blog@rackspace.com.

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