OpenStack Kilo Cloud Platform Debuts With Ironic Bare-Metal Service

The new open-source cloud computing platform adds bare-metal server deployment capabilities.

OpenStack cloud

The OpenStack Kilo cloud platform release is out today, marking the first OpenStack release of 2015. OpenStack Kilo follows the Juno release, which debuted last October. Kilo release highlights include the Ironic bare-metal service and an expanded cloud federation capability in the OpenStack Keystone identity project.

Kilo is the 11th release of OpenStack since NASA and Rackspace launched it in 2010. OpenStack is a platform that incorporates multiple projects delivering different capabilities. The latest project in the Kilo release is Project Ironic, which brings bare-metal server capabilities to OpenStack.

"Ironic runs as a service and ties into different hardware interfaces to manage bare-metal servers directly," Jonathan Bryce, executive director of the OpenStack Foundation, told eWEEK.

A driver is now available in the OpenStack Nova compute project that links to Ironic, enabling a cloud operator to place a workload using the same commands to start a virtual machine or a physical machine, Bryce said.

"There has always been some measure of bare-metal support in OpenStack, but Ironic now brings that support to the next level," Bryce said. "Some people want to run workloads in a virtual machine hypervisor. Some want to run in a container and some want to run on bare metal, and now OpenStack has support for all those environments."

While the OpenStack Ironic project is only now officially being included in an integrated OpenStack platform release, it is already being used in production by Rackspace. Last June, Rackspace announced its Ironic-powered OnMetal service that provides bare metal server cloud compute capacity.

While Ironic is now in the OpenStack Kilo release, not every OpenStack vendor is embracing the technology. Canonical, the lead commercial sponsor behind Ubuntu Linux, will be including Ironic in its OpenStack distribution, though Ubuntu is suggesting that its' own Metal-as-a-Service (MaaS) technology is a superior alternative.

"Ironic is packaged in Ubuntu, though we don't think [Ironic] is very good," Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Ubuntu, told eWEEK. "All our customers that have tried the current implementation of Ironic and have not liked it; instead, they prefer MaaS."


The other big highlight of the OpenStack Kilo release is an enhanced federation capability in the OpenStack Keystone identity project. With federated identity, a user could authenticate into one cloud and get access to multiple connected clouds.

"Anyone that is running the OpenStack Juno release or later will now be able to federate with an OpenStack Kilo cloud," Bryce explained. "Other clouds can verify identity tokens against OpenStack Kilo, and accept requests from users across different clouds."

One potential application is for a user in an on-premises private cloud to connect to an offsite-hosted private cloud as well as a public cloud for service provisioning. With federated cloud capability, users can get access to a large distributed pool of cloud computing resources, Bryce said.

Ubuntu's Shuttleworth is enthusiastic about the new OpenStack federation capabilities. "It's a sign of success for OpenStack, that organizations want the ability to access multiple OpenStack clouds," Shuttleworth said. "We are completely committed to federation."

The idea of a federated OpenStack cloud ecosystem was the subject of a keynote by Troy Toman, cloud architect at Rackspace, at the OpenStack Atlanta Summit in May 2014. At that time, Toman referred to the OpenStack cloud federation as a "planetary-scale OS."

"If you think about the original promise of OpenStack, that is when we have the same cloud code running everywhere, we can connect things together and unlock the power of a cloud of clouds," Mark Collier, chief operating officer of the OpenStack Foundation, told eWEEK.

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.