OpenStack unfurls first full cloud fluffer

Compute and storage launch control, NASA style

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The OpenStack project, which has NASA and Rackspace Hosting and now 35 other organizations co-developing computing and storage controllers for cloudy infrastructure, has launched its first release, codenamed Austin, right on schedule.

While OpenStack warns that the product is not yet ready for primetime - think of it as a preview or developer release - both NASA and Rackspace have the Austin code running in production already.

When the OpenStack project debuted back in July, both NASA and Rackspace were individually wrestling with were the limited scalability of the cloud controllers to manage farms of virtualized servers and NASA was concerned that its cloud fabric of choice, Eucalyptus, was not scalable enough and was not fully open source. And so NASA started coding its own homegrown cloud fabric controller, called Nova, which it open sourced.

Rackspace coincidentally approached NASA about working together, and the two decided to form OpenStack, which takes NASA's Nova and some bits from Rackspace's own Ozone controller and mixes it with Rackspace's Cloud Files cloudy storage controller, now called OpenStack Object Store and nicknamed Swift, to create a unified compute-storage cloud.

Different hypervisors plug into the cloud controller to do the actual server virtualization, and both organizations as well as the growing list of OpenStack partners want to be a kind of Switzerland for x64-based clouds, with a full set of open APIs that allows different hypervisors and tools to plug into the OpenStack controllers.

The Austin release is the first code from OpenStack to include the merged Nova and Ozone cloud controller code, says Jim Curry, vice president of corporate development at Rackspace and general manager of the OpenStack project. The Swift code, written in Python, was released when OpenStack launched and is production-grade code already.

The Nova cloud fabric controller in the Austin release relies heavily on the original Nova code from NASA, but there have been a bunch of changes in its Python code. The original Nova controller only supported the KVM hypervisor that is controlled by commercial Linux distributor Red Hat, but now the updated controller, which still bears the Nova name, can support the open source Xen hypervisor through interfaces to the libvirt tool (also shepherded by Red Hat) as well as the full-on XenServer hypervisor (thanks to work from Citrix).

Interestingly, as El Reg previously reported, Oracle's type 2 or hosted hypervisor can also be controlled by the Nova controller, although Jonathan Bryce, the tech strategist at the OpenCloud project and founder of Rackspace's own cloudy infrastructure biz, says that VirtualBox is not a first-class citizen in the ranking of server hypervisors.

By the way, User Mode Linux, an alternative means of hosting multiple Linux instances on a single Linux operating system, is a first-class citizen as far as the Nova cloud fabric controller is concerned, now that support for UML has been added with the Austin release.

Next page: Less is better

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