Cisco Looks to Leverage UCS for OpenStack Deployments

The company is rolling out accelerator packs that support major OpenStack distributions and make it easier to deploy OpenStack on the UCS.

At the OpenStack Summit in Hong Kong this week, the Cisco is introducing accelerator packs designed to make it easier for organizations to deploy their OpenStack cloud infrastructures on Cisco's UCS, which offers a tightly bundled package of Cisco server and networking technology with virtualization and storage capabilities from such partners as EMC and VMware. The UCS Solution Accelerator Paks for OpenStack will operate with distributions of the open-source cloud package from such vendors as Red Hat, SUSE and Canonical, according to Cisco officials.

In addition, Cisco is rolling out services designed to help organizations deploy OpenStack clouds running with UCS and Cisco's Nexus switches, with the services touching on everything from assessment and validation to design and optimization.

"As OpenStack evolves, even more infrastructure services and virtualized network functions (NFV) are moving into this infrastructure-as-a-service cloud platform layer," Lew Tucker, vice president and chief technology officer for cloud computing at Cisco, said in a post on the company's blog. "Cisco, along with others in the community, is helping to drive these new networking capabilities such as VPN/Firewall/Load Balancing-as-a-service into the core services of OpenStack, making it easier to develop and deploy large-scale cloud applications."

Cisco is no stranger to OpenStack, having joined the initiative more than two years ago. Tucker noted the high level of participation from a range of participants in the continued development of OpenStack, with 910 contributors to the new Havana release, which is 70 percent more than the number that contributed to the Grizzly release six months ago.

"While there's still more work to do, most of us feel OpenStack has reached the level of maturity and deployment success that's needed for production deployment by organizations of just about any size," he wrote.

That's where the new accelerator packs come in. Cisco officials are hoping the accelerator packs will convince service providers and enterprises to use the company's UCS as the underlying infrastructure for their Red Hat, SUSE and Canonical OpenStack cloud deployments. The UCS Solution Accelerator Paks for OpenStack will come in several configurations for compute-intensive environments, mixed deployment and storage-intensive workloads, according to Cisco.

In addition to the accelerator packs, Cisco and Red Hat have been working on Red Hat's distribution of the Havana release to put in a plug-in for Cisco's Nexus networking equipment for OpenStack Networking, Tucker said. The two companies also have created a Cisco Validated Design, which essentially outlines how users can quickly deploy Red Hat's Havana distribution—RHEL OSP—with Cisco's UCS.

In his blog post, Tucker wrote that physical infrastructures that support cloud deployments are becoming more "application-aware," improving the performance and availability demanded by the growing numbers of cloud applications. It's a phrase that promises to be at the forefront of the event Cisco has planned for Nov. 6 in New York City when executives—including CEO John Chambers—unveil new technology from Insieme, the vendor's "spin-in" company.

With this in mind, he said Cisco officials are working with members of the OpenStack community to create a policy-driven approach for deploying applications and leverage Cisco's Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) fabric for OpenStack. Cisco wants to integrate the ACI controller into OpenStack, which "will simplify and accelerate application deployment and operations through centralized configuration, testing, monitoring of network connectivity, security and other L4-7 services," Tucker wrote. "Cisco will also collaborate with major OpenStack distro vendors to support higher-level ACI integrations so that OpenStack can intelligently instantiate infrastructure to support application performance, security and availability requirements."

Industry observers expect OpenStack, which has been on the market for three years, to quickly grow revenues over the next few years. Analysts with 451 Research last month forecast that OpenStack-related revenues will hit $600 million this year and grow to $1 billion by 2015.