OpenStack is out to be the Linux of the cloud infrastructure world-the project, founded by NASA and Rackspace, is aimed at rounding up the various compute, storage and networking components that make up a public or private cloud into an open-source cloud operating system.
Just as most people who use and deploy Linux rely on distributions to take care of the many packaging and configuration details required to get up and running, the OpenStack world will have its own distributions.
I've been testing one such OpenStack distribution, called StackOps, which makes it rather easy to get up and running with a single-node OpenStack implementation, suitable for early testing and for familiarizing oneself with this fast-moving cloud computing project. StackOps consists of an Ubuntu Linux-based distribution, which, paired with a Web-based Smart Installer application, speeds the process of configuring and deploying OpenStack clouds.
For my tests, I stuck mostly to single-node configurations, in which the controller, network, storage and compute nodes that make up an OpenStack cloud are piled onto a single machine. For uses beyond testing, the StackOps Smart Installer also supports dual and multinode OpenStack configurations. With that said, StackOps, and OpenStack in general, has yet to approach the level of maturity of a typical Linux distribution.
The components that underlie OpenStack are solid, but the integration and tools situation reminds me of the early Xen hypervisor tests performed by eWEEK Labs in 2005 and 2006. For now, putting OpenStack into production will require in-house or outsourced expertise-StackOps, which charges nothing for its distribution or its Smart Installer application, sells services around its offering.
Moving forward, I expect to see several different OpenStack distributions available alongside StackOps. Ubuntu Linux Server, on which StackOps is based, is set to ship OpenStack as its default private cloud option starting with version 11.10 this fall. At its recent Synergy conference in San Francisco, Citrix announced an OpenStack distribution of its own, called Project Olympus. Where StackOps turns to KVM or QEMU for delivering compute services, Project Olympus will default to Citrix's own XenServer.