OpenStack Stein Improves Cloud Identity and Orchestration

The OpenStack Stein release introduces new multi-cloud orchestration capabilities, as well as enhancements to help enable edge computing use-cases.

OpenStack Stein

Google is not the only vendor with cloud news this week as the open-source OpenStack cloud platform is set to announce its Stein release on April 10.

OpenStack is comprised of a series of inter-related projects that can be put together in different combinations, to enable a complete cloud deployment. In the OpenStack Stein milestone, there are multiple projects that have integrated new and enhanced capabilities, as well as new projects that benefit cloud operators. Among the new projects is the OpenStack Placement service that enables operators to more efficiently track cloud resource inventories. The Heat orchestration project in the Stein release benefits from support to orchestrate new workload deployments across multiple OpenStack clouds.

"OpenStack Stein comes with quite a few improvements around stability, performance and usability," Marcin Bednarz, Product Manager at Canonical told eWEEK. "This proves how mature OpenStack has become and how it is evolving to address new use cases, such as Heat stack orchestration across multiple OpenStack clouds."

Stein is the 19th release of the OpenStack platform since it was first launched in 2010 by NASA and Rackspace. The Stein update is the first OpenStack update for 2019 and follows the Rocky milestone that became available in August 2018. OpenStack is a multi-stakeholder effort with multiple vendors including Canonical/Ubuntu, SUSE, VMware and Red Hat among others, providing commercially supported OpenStack offerings. Additionally, there are multiple cloud services that are powered by OpenStack, including Oracle, Rackspace, Telefonica, OVH, vScaler and City Network.

When OpenStack got started there were only two projects, Swift storage and Nova compute. The new OpenStack Placement service is a capability that originally was part of Nova, but has now been separated out into its' own project. According to the release notes, the goal of the Placement service is to track cloud resource inventories and usages to help other services effectively manage and allocate their resources. As its' own project, OpenStack developers claim that the performance of the API has been increased by 50 percent for common scheduling operations.

"OpenStack Placement brings interesting possibilities to how the internal mechanics of resource allocation work in OpenStack," Bednarz said. "With improved performance and clear delineation of functions between Nova and Placement, it seems like an exciting new direction cloud operators could benefit from especially in terms of easier maintenance of OpenStack services." 

Keystone Identity

The Keystone Identity project within OpenStack benefits from several important enhancements in the Stein release, including Multi-Factor Authentication Receipts. T. R. Bosworth, senior product manager at SUSE told eWEEK that the multi-factor authentication receipts features in Stein is really completing work that was started in OpenStack Ocata release that was launched in February 2017 and never got completed. 

"It’s the correct approach as you do multi-factor authentication – you provide one sort of authentication then you are issued a 'half-token' which says you have done part of the authentication, then when you do the second part of the authentication using say a phone or key you are let in," Bosworth said. "It’s a challenge response mechanism that has been implemented."

Artificial Intelligence and the Edge

For Sean Cohen, senior manager for product management at Red Hat, there are a few key highlights in the Stein release that can be used to help businesses to deliver new, differentiated applications and services on a flexible and scalable private cloud. 

"Stein adds capabilities focused on enabling new workloads and use cases as organizations look to distill more benefits from an increasingly digitized economy," Cohen told eWEEK. "For example, with Stein, Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML) workloads such as facial recognition are simplified through collaboration between OpenStack and TensorFlow, providing a more dynamic, multimedia-rich user experience." 

The emerging concept of Edge Computing also gets a boost in the OpenStack Stein release. With Edge Computing, rather than all compute assets located in a central core, compute is extended out to the edge of the network. Cohen noted that distributed computing enhancements are also part of Stein, providing new methods for users to adopt edge computing strategies.

"By driving compute and storage capabilities closer to data sources, OpenStack Stein provides a better distribution of IT architecture and can help to reduce latency for critical applications while at the same time mitigating bandwidth and operational costs," Cohen said.

The OpenStack Stein release will be further discussed at the upcoming Open Infrastructure Summit in Denver from April 29 - May 1. The next major release for OpenStack is the Train milestone which is currently set for general availability in October.

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.