OpenStack Training: A Student’s View

Taking on a new role at Rackspace means there are a lot of new things to learn. In my case, my team lead signed me up for OpenStack Training, given by the Rackspace Cloud Builders training team. As I went through the process, I wanted to document the experience for our customers who may be interested in how our OpenStack training works.

The current training course offered by Rackspace Cloud Builders is a four-day OpenStack Cloud Fundamentals class offered in two sections: Compute and Object Storage. The first two days cover OpenStack Compute, Identity Service, Image Services and Dashboard while the last two days of the course focus on OpenStack Object Storage. The course provides a detailed architectural overview, hands-on experience and troubleshooting from experienced OpenStack engineers.

Day 1: Introduction to Compute

The first day of your training begins with an introduction to OpenStack and why it is important to the future of cloud technology. The instructor explains all of the different components that make up the OpenStack suite. You dive right in once the introduction is over. The first thing you do is set up a Compute installation in a lab environment. The instructor walks you through each command and each part of what you are doing so you know the steps.

After the Compute setup is complete, you set up the Identity, Image and Dashboard Services on your lab environment in the same way – the instructor guides you through the steps and explains each command. You learn how the services are interconnected and how to manage them on an all-in-one environment. You discuss various use cases for different types of configurations. At the end of day one, you should have a firm grasp of what OpenStack is and how to perform initial set up of the various services.

Day 2: OpenStack Compute Deep Dive

Once everything is configured, the real fun begins for us system administrators. The instructor runs through a break/fix where various services that you’ve just learned about are broken – and YOU have to fix them! Once all the services are back online, the instructor walks you through each issue, what was broken and the best fix for each issue. This gives you an idea of working with OpenStack in an operational capacity and how to troubleshoot each service.

Once that is complete, you go even further by changing your single “all-in-one” lab environment to a multi-node Compute cluster. You learn how to administrate each piece independently for scaling, as well as gain a better understanding of how each service relates to others since they are now running on different physical devices.

At this stage, you go through more break/fix exercises that are a bit more challenging. The instructor breaks services on multiple servers that you need to track down and repair. This gives you a really deep understanding of how OpenStack Compute works in a real-world operational environment. At the end of day two, you will be prepared to create your own OpenStack Compute images, launch them in your own cluster and troubleshoot if things go wrong.

Day 3: Introduction to Object Storage

On Day 3 of OpenStack Training you jump into Object Storage, codenamed “Swift.” You learn about early versions of Object Storage and how we evolved to use the current configuration. The instructor describes Ring concepts – basically how Swift scales and how it keeps track of everything in the cluster in a highly available way.

At the end of Day 3, the instructor takes you step-by-step through a multi-node Object Storage Cluster installation.

Day 4: OpenStack Object Storage Deep Dive

If you are like me and enjoy a challenge, Day 4 is your day. The instructor has various exercises for you to perform, allowing you to get familiar with using Swift in an operational capacity. You walk through adding users, using the API and setting up ACLs in your cluster.

You then learn how to audit Swift to check your cluster’s health. The instructor makes you fully aware of the process that the cluster uses to detect and handle failure. You also learn how to monitor your cluster and the best thresholds to set for future monitoring.

Overall, the training was very informative and gets you or your team up and running to start using OpenStack. If you are considering using OpenStack for your private cloud solution (even if you are using Rackspace to manage it for you), I recommend you have your technical team go through this training. Thanks to Tony Campbell for being a great instructor!

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