OpenStack Newton: An Unstoppable Force in Enterprise IT

Newton
'Newton' by Eduardo Paolozzi, after a painting of Issac Newton by William Blake, on the British Library concourse in London.

OpenStack is moving steadily into the enterprise and is now the de facto standard for private cloud platforms. With Newton, the most recent release, OpenStack is focusing on three key functions necessary for it to become the single platform for enterprise IT: scalability, resiliency and user experience.

Newton logo

At Rackspace, we see the rise of this community-built open source platform as the force behind a continuing wave of innovation, as more users and enterprises reap the benefits of OpenStack and cloud computing.

With every new community release, that promise takes firmer shape, as OpenStack has focused on becoming the single platform for integrating and managing all types of cloud resources, including virtual machines, bare metal servers and containers.

In doing so, OpenStack is becoming a suitable cloud platform for any customer workload, in recognition of the diversity that exists in enterprise data centers.

Scalability

A key theme running through the last several releases has been scalability. As the OpenStack community experiences some of the same scaling issues Rackspace has been working through for a number of years, we’ve helped by sharing our expertise with scalability challenges. In Newton, several enhancements have been made:

  • The Mitaka release introduced the Heat Convergence Engine to orchestrate application stacks. The new convergence engine enables multiple engines to scale out orchestration. With Newton, the convergence engine has become the default implementation for Heat.
  • Some workloads, such as big data, scale best by using bare-metal servers instead of virtual machines. In Newton, Ironic bare-metal servers are now a first class citizen in OpenStack, with the ability to create multi-tenant Ironic deployments.

Resiliency

Rackspace pioneered resiliency in the OpenStack control plane with our first-to-market 99.99 percent API uptime guarantee. With enterprise adoption on the rise, this focus on resiliency has expanded to include the workloads running OpenStack. Newton includes several enhancement to help ensure that OpenStack clouds are able to deal with these resiliency challenges:

  • Additional advances have been in making OpenStack upgrades into non-events, with no downtime required. A key example in Newton is the ability to perform no-downtime upgrades of the Neutron networking APIs.
  • An important capability that Rackspace has long leveraged in our public cloud is live migration of VMs from one compute node to another. As discussed in a previous post, we rely heavily on live migration for fleet management in our public cloud. In Newton, enhancements have been made to make live migration more reliable.

User experience

The improvement of the OpenStack user experience (operators and end users, such as developers) has been another goal with each release. Newton includes several upgrades:

  • An important but often neglected aspect of many open source projects is documentation. In the Newton release, the community beefed up OpenStack documentation to make it more useful.
  • As I’ve mentioned before, both a strength and a weakness in OpenStack is the flexibility to configure your cloud in any number of permutations. The Mitaka release began shipping with sensible default configurations based on recommended practices. These default configurations have been refined in the Newton release.

The OpenStack community has also focused on a critical area of concern for the enterprise — security. Significantly, The OpenStack project recently received the Core Infrastructure Initiative Best Practices Badge from The Linux Foundation, validating its commitment to securing the enterprise.

This security focus aligns with the focus Rackspace has placed on securing our customers’ clouds. In our most recent Rackspace OpenStack private cloud releases, we enabled customers to automate the securing of their cloud infrastructure. We configured that security hardening according to the Federal Government’s Security Technical Implementation Guides, or STIG. You can learn more by reading our OpenStack security hardening white paper.

We are excited about the new enhancements with Newton. As with past releases, Rackspace will incorporate it into both our OpenStack upstream and Red Hat OpenStack offerings after thorough testing by our cloud engineers.

Our imperative is to provide customers the Fanatical Support they’ve come to expect from Rackspace. With both our upstream and Red Hat offerings, our customers don’t need to worry about which version of OpenStack has just been released. They can just focus on consuming the cloud resources they need through Rackspace, and utilizing them to build great applications to enhance their businesses.

Meanwhile, Rackspace will keep handling their cloud operations and the complexity of operating an OpenStack cloud.

 

Kenneth Hui was a Senior Technical Marketing Engineer and Cloud Solutions Architect at Rackspace. Ken has 20+ years of experience in the IT industry and is passionate about helping customers with their cloud computing journey. He lives in New York City where he can indulge in his love of great food from all around the world. You can follow Ken on Twitter @kenhuiny.

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