OpenStack began with just two projects – Nova for compute and Swift for object storage. It has since grown to more than 60 projects that cover a gamut of technologies, from compute to networking to storage to security.
Historically, many of the projects have been perceived to have dependencies on one another, and so they were positioned as components of a single cloud platform. For example, the expectation has been that OpenStack should always be deployed with Nova compute, Keystone identity management, and Neutron networking working together.
Mark Collier, chief operating officer for the OpenStack Foundation, presented an alternative vision during his OpenStack Summit keynote.
Instead of seeing OpenStack as a monolithic cloud platform, Collier encouraged the community to view the various OpenStack projects as composable and programmable infrastructure building blocks.
Swift pioneered that vision, by delivering object storage that can be deployed and consumed as a standalone solution. Carrying the idea forward to other OpenStack projects opens up new possibilities for how OpenStack can be used with each other and with other technologies.
To make the vision more tangible, Collier introduced a number of live demos that showed how flexible and composable OpenStack really is.
The first demo leveraged Ironic bare-metal compute and Neutron networking to provision and configure a rack of bare-metal servers. Then came a demo that showed off Cinder block storage as a standalone service that can be used specifically to provide persistent storage for containers.
That was followed by a live demo showing how OpenStack could be used to provision virtual machines, containers and bare-metal servers to underpin a big data application.
For OpenStack to advance as composable infrastructure building blocks, Collier suggested the community need to purge any hint of a “not invented here” mentality that would prevent OpenStack from being a good partner to other open source technologies and projects.
To demonstrate how OpenStack works with other open source technologies on a global scale, 15 OpenStack cloud vendors participated in a live interoperability challenge, attempting to deploy a globally dispersed CockroachDB on a Kubernetes instance on each of their cloud solutions.
This new vision for OpenStack has the potential to push the project into new areas that would help it to realize it’s mission “to produce a ubiquitous Open Source Cloud,” but one that is composable and flexible to meet the needs of a diverse world. It is a pivot in vision worth keeping an eye on.
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