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With Queens, OpenStack brings some class to cloud

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The OpenStack Foundation has announced the release of OpenStack Queens that comes with a boat load of features.

OpenStack has moved to a six month release cycle, ahead of upcoming OpenStack Summit. It gives developers, vendors and partners enough time to play with the release so when they meet at the event, they can churn out their focus for the next release. And it’s becoming clear that OpenStack is quickly moving into new territories.

“In the early days of cloud, the use cases were fairly narrow, but the scope of cloud use cases today has expanded to include a massive variety of workloads,” said OpenStack Foundation Chief Operating Officer Mark Collier.

Queens, the 17th release of OpenStack, comes with features aimed at mission-critical workloads. Operators are going to love Cinder Multi-Attach, which enables them to attach the same Cinder volume to multiple VMs. Why does it matter? If one node goes down, the other takes over and has access to the volume.

This redundancy supports high availability (HA) for mission critical workloads. The Foundation said that it’s one of the most-requested features in cloud environments, which has remained a largely unmet challenge in computing until now.

That’s not all that’s there for operators. Here are some major highlights for operators:

  • OpenStack-Helm — This addition to the project portfolio provides a collection of Helm charts and tools for managing the lifecycle of OpenStack on top of Kubernetes and running OpenStack projects as independent services.
  • Register & document policy — Across the majority of OpenStack projects, role-based access control (RBAC) policies now live in the project code, as opposed to being a separate file in the project source, providing better communication about service policies and the ability to set more granular defaults for RBAC policies.
  • HOT drag and drop — Horizon adds a plug-in enabling creation of Heat orchestration templates through a user-friendly drag-and-drop UI on the Horizon dashboard.
  • LOCI — Another project making its debut, LOCI makes Open Container Initiative-compatible images of OpenStack services that can be dropped into heavy-weight deployment tools like OpenStack-Helm or used individually to deliver standalone services like Cinder block storage.

Cloud continues to evolve, so does OpenStack

That’s not all. “Just as the scope of cloud evolves, OpenStack evolves as a platform. Consider the vGPU and containers enhancements in the Queens release: they address opposite ends of the use-case spectrum and demonstrate how OpenStack has the flexibility and ability to support changing open infrastructure requirements,” said Chief Operating Officer Mark Collier.

Queens also comes with features aimed at emerging use cases such as machine learning, NFV, container integration and edge computing. Some of the major highlights of this release include:

  • Support for vGPUs (virtual graphic processing units) — In Nova, vGPU support lets cloud administrators define flavors to request specific resources and resolutions for vGPUs. End users can boot VMs that have vGPUs, an important capacity for graphics-intensive workloads and many scientific, artificial intelligence and machine learning workloads.
  • Cyborg — Cyborg, a framework for managing hardware and software acceleration resources such as GPU, FPGA, CryptoCards and DPDK/SPDK, debuts in the Queens release. Acceleration has become a necessity rather than an option, particularly for telcos with NFV workloads. With Cyborg, operators can list, identify and discover accelerators, attach and detach accelerators to an instance, and install and uninstall drives. It can be used standalone or in conjunction with Nova or Ironic.
  • Ironic Rescue Mode — Instance repair—long available for VMs in Nova—is now available for bare metal instances in Ironic. Operators can now troubleshoot misconfigured bare metal nodes or recover from issues like a lost SSH key, an important enhancement since production usage of Ironic has jumped from 9 to 20 percent between April and November of 2017 (source: OpenStack User Survey).
  • Kuryr CNI Daemon — OpenStack is the preferred platform for containers deployed in private cloud, and the community continues to expand microservices features in Queens. Kuryr adds a CNI daemon to increase the scalability of operations on Kubernetes. To support HA, the CNI daemon watches for pod events, eliminating the need to wait on the Kubernetes API for each event. Pods can be created even if the controller goes down.
  • Edge computing support — Two new projects, OpenStack-Helm and LOCI, described in more detail below, support edge computing applications such as those presented in the white paper “Cloud Edge Computing: Beyond the Data Center” recently published by members of the OSF Edge Computing Group.
  • Zun container service — Zun is a new OpenStack project that allows users to quickly start and run containers without having to manage servers or clusters. It seamlessly adds advanced enterprise networking, storage and authentication capabilities to containers by integrating with Neutron, Cinder, Keystone and other core OpenStack services.

Queens shows that OpenStack has quashed the reports of its untimely demise and that it will fade out. On the contrary, the OpenStack community has shown the natural course of a health evolution where you make mistakes, learn from them and get better. When the OpenStack community meets at the next OpenStack Summit in Vancouver, Canada, it will lay the foundation for the future of the OpenStack Cloud.

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