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Peek into the future of OpenStack on the Cloud

Posted: 03 Mar 2015     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Openstack  cloud computing  Infrastructure as a Service  IaaS  open source 

Managed by the non-profit OpenStack Foundation, Openstack is a set of software tools for creating and managing cloud computing platforms for public, private and hybrid clouds. Backed by some of the biggest companies in software development and hosting, as well as thousands of individual community members, many think that it is the future of cloud computing.

The cloud is all about providing computing for end users in a remote environment, where the actual software runs as a service on reliable and scalable servers rather than on each end users computer. Cloud computing can refer to a lot of different things, but typically the industry talks about running different items "as a service"—software, platforms, and infrastructure. OpenStack falls into the latter category and is considered "Infrastructure as a Service" (IaaS).

Providing infrastructure means that OpenStack makes it easy for users to quickly add new instance, upon which other cloud components can run. Typically, the infrastructure then runs a "platform" upon which a developer can create software applications which are delivered to the end users. Openstack is comprised of many different parts (figure).

Figure: Openstack has a core of seven basic services.

Because of its open nature, anyone can add additional components to OpenStack to help it to meet their needs. To create a standard set of services that developers can use interchangeably, the OpenStack community has collaboratively identified nine key components that are a part of the "core" of the platform, and which are distributed as a part of any OpenStack system and officially maintained by the OpenStack community. OpenStack currently consists of seven core projects:
1) Compute (Nova)
2) Networking (Neutron/Quantum)
3) Identity Management (Keystone)
4) Object Storage (Swift)
5) Block Storage (Cinder)
6) Image Service (Glance)
7) User Interface Dashboard (Horizon)

Nova OpenStack Compute (Nova) controls the cloud computing fabric (the core component of an infrastructure service). Written in Python, it creates an abstraction layer for virtualizing commodity server resources such as CPU, RAM, network adapters, and hard drives, with functions to improve utilisation and automation.

Swift OpenStack Object Storage (Swift) is based on the Rackspace Cloud Files product and is a redundant storage system ideal for scale-out storage. This makes scaling easy, as developers don't have the worry about the capacity on a single system behind the software. It also allows the system, rather than the developer, to worry about how best to make sure that data is backed up in case of the failure of a machine or network connection.

Cinder OpenStack Block Storage (Cinder) provides persistent block-level storage devices for use with OpenStack compute instances. This more traditional way of accessing files might be important in scenarios in which data access speed is the most important consideration.

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