The OpenStack Foundation announced on Feb. 22 its 15th release of the OpenStack cloud platform with the debut of Ocata. The latest open-source cloud infrastructure platform release had only four months of development time, rather than the typical six months, though it's still packed with new features and usability improvements.
The OpenStack Ocata release follows the OpenStack Newton release that debuted in October 2016. The shorter release cycle is due to a realignment in the OpenStack development process that was announced during the Newton development cycle.
Among the features that debuted in OpenStack Ocata are a number of improvements to help further enable container workloads.
"We're seeing more integration between the various OpenStack services and container technologies," Jonathan Bryce, executive director of the OpenStack Foundation, told eWEEK.
In the Ocata release, the OpenStack Magnum project has improved support for container orchestration frameworks, adding new support for Mesosphere's open-source DCOS. Magnum had previously provided support for Kubernetes and Docker Swarm orchestration systems. The OpenStack Kuryr container networking engine gets a boost in the Ocata release, with full support for the Container Networking Interface (CNI) that helps to enable networking in Kubernetes.
"We're also seeing people use containers to deploy and manage OpenStack services," Bryce said. "There is some additional work in that area in Ocata in the OpenStack Kolla project, using container images inside of Kubernetes."
With Ocata, there is also an emphasis on helping to improve cloud operations. Among the tools that help operations is the new os-profiler tool that follows requests through the OpenStack system, so that an administrator can see if there any performance issues. Bryce explained that os-profiler profiles the performance of the cloud control plane itself and not the actual applications that are running. So for example, the os-profiler will provide visibility into the infrastructure resources, tracking how much time it takes to provision a required service.
The OpenStack Horizon dashboard also benefits from numerous usability improvements in the Ocata release cycle. Bryce noted that one area of improvement in Horizon is in how access and security elements are displayed. Bryce explained that access and security controls were previously all contained in one single place in Horizon. In the Ocata release, the access and security settings are now visible contextually where an administrator is likely to need the controls. For example, if an administrator is going to provision new storage or networking, they will now have contextual access and security controls in the same part of the Horizon dashboard, to easily add the right configuration settings.
Cloud federation is now more easily enabled through the Horizon dashboard. Bryce noted that the OpenStack Keystone identity service has supported inter-cloud federation for a few years, enabling multiple OpenStack clouds to be connected.
"Horizon in the Ocata release provides administrators with the ability to select different OpenStack Keystone environments directly inside of Horizon," Bryce explained.
Cloud federation overall is improved in Ocata thanks to multiple improvements in Keystone. Bryce said that Keystone now enables cloud administrators to define a default set of permissions for any user that has federated access into an OpenStack cloud.
"It basically makes the federation more seamless, and all of that is now also visible in Horizon," Bryce said.
The continued usability improvements in OpenStack Ocata are intended to help further drive OpenStack adoption for both public and private cloud deployments. Mark Collier, chief operating officer of the OpenStack Foundation, commented that the use of containers in particular have helped to make OpenStack much easier to manage.
"Four of five years ago, people would say that it's great that Walmart is running OpenStack, but they're the biggest company in the world," Collier said.
Collier admitted that a few years ago, OpenStack wasn't particularly accessible and it did often require a very technologically savvy organization in order to operate a cloud, but that's not necessarily the case anymore.
"The biggest story in Ocata is the fact that it is becoming a lot easier to operate your own cloud," Collier said. "We're really now entering a phase where it costs less and organizations are doing more with OpenStack, which makes it pretty irresistible for a lot of companies out there."
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.