OpenStack Aims to Improve Integration With Cloud Native Technologies

At the OpenStack Summit in Australia, the OpenStack Foundation announces new efforts to help improve integration across a variety of complementary cloud-native technologies.

OpenStack Integration

The OpenStack Foundation is hosting its semiannual summit in Sydney, Australia, Nov. 6-8, where it is highlighting use cases and progress in the multistakeholder, open-source cloud infrastructure effort.  

The first day of the OpenStack Summit saw the unveiling of several initiatives designed to improve and promote integration between OpenStack and other open-source cloud efforts. Among the announcements were the Open Infrastructure Integration effort, the launch of the OpenLab testing tools program, the debut of a public cloud passport program and the formation of a financial services team.

"We've really put some focus into the strategy for the OpenStack Foundation for next five years," Jonathan Bryce, executive director of the OpenStack Foundation, told eWEEK. "We spent the last five years developing code and building a large user base. Looking forward, we're listening to the challenges that users are facing to help us determine what we should be doing."

OpenStack began as a joint open-source effort between NASA and Rackspace in July 2010. In September 2012, the OpenStack Foundation was officially launched, providing an open governance model that helped the cloud infrastructure technology platform grow.

While OpenStack has found success with large organizations, including telco providers and large retailers including Walmart, the overall cloud technology landscape has become increasingly complicated in recent years. Bryce said organizations are looking to use multiple types of cloud technology, but integrating all the different pieces has been a challenge.

"In some ways, the best thing about open source is that there is more of it than ever before," he said. "In other ways, the worst thing about open source is that there is more of it than ever before."

With the rapid pace of innovation across different open-source cloud technologies, Bryce said often the integration and operations pieces are left behind. He noted that organizations don't want to have cloud infrastructure just for its own sake, but rather they are looking to build and deliver applications and services to end users.

OpenStack operators have told the OpenStack Foundation that they want to discuss and enable integration and operations across multiple disparate open-source cloud projects in an open and collaborative way, according to Bryce.

"We've now landed on a strategy at the OpenStack Foundation to prove and enable integration in the open infrastructure landscape," he said. 

The OpenStack Foundation has a global community of users and multiple ongoing efforts that help promote and develop OpenStack. The foundation now is looking beyond just the confines of the OpenStack project to provide more focus for specific industry use cases.

"We're going to expand the number and type of open-source projects that we support, and we're not going to try and mash it all up into one thing called OpenStack, which had been our approach so far," Bryce said. 

OpenStack has always invested in testing, though to date that testing largely has been limited to just testing OpenStack itself, he said. The OpenStack Foundation is now expanding its efforts to test the integration between OpenStack and other open-source cloud components with the OpenLab effort. OpenLab will enable testing for common deployment scenarios, including CloudFoundry, Mesos and Kubernetes.

"What we have realized this year is that our users and our community are already a lot bigger than just OpenStack clouds doing virtualization," Bryce said. "As a foundation, there are a lot of ways we can support them a lot better, so they can be a lot more effective."

Big Tent

OpenStack has tried to provide a broader set of capabilities to address different needs. Among those efforts was one known as the "Big Tent," which debuted in May 2015 as a new way to enable a more diverse set of projects to be part of OpenStack.

While Big Tent was somewhat successful, Bryce said, it didn't have all the necessary pieces to meet user requirements.

"The goal of Big Tent was to drive innovation inside of the OpenStack community as our community had grown beyond just doing virtual machine and block storage," he said. "What we have come to learn from our users is that innovation without the operations and integration focus doesn't get the job done."

Integration with software is an area where vendors take an active role and often are able to generate revenue from professional services activities. At OpenStack, the goal is to bring OpenStack vendors and operators together to collaborate in an open way about best practices for integration.

"The lines are blurring between the vendor side and the user side," Mark Collier, chief operating officer at the OpenStack Foundation, told eWEEK

For example, Collier said that there are multiple vendors involved with the OpenLab initiative, including Huawei and Intel. In addition, there are operators involved, including Open Telekom Cloud and Vexxhost.

Looking at the broader community of OpenStack participation, Collier noted that AT&T, for example, is running critical workloads representing significant revenue on OpenStack. AT&T is not an OpenStack vendor but is very active in OpenStack development, contributing code to the upstream project.

"There is a close collaboration now in the OpenStack community with vendors and operators," Collier said.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.