OpenStack is sometimes called the Linux for clouds, and Red Hat, the dominant Linux distributor, seems to be all over that. The firm is now working to bring its Red Hat OpenStack distribution into the ever-crowding field of companies that want to peddle supported distributions of this cloud control freak. Red Hat Open Stack, or RHOS, is not ready for primetime, but a new RDO community – Red Hat is not saying what it stands for – is getting a Fedora-like early adopter community together running OpenStack on top of Red Hat's Enterprise Linux and KVM hypervisor.
Presumably, RDO is short for Red Hat Distribution for OpenStack, but for all we know it is a play on the Texas origins of OpenStack and what the RDO community is donning is a 10-gallon cowboy hat - after all, the development release of any software is a bit like a rodeo.
The RDO community, which is parked at www.openstack.redhat.com, is an analog to Fedora and RHOS is an analog to Enterprise Linux, but RHOS will be moving at a slightly faster clip than RHEL. This is according to Brian Stevens, chief technology officer and vice president of worldwide engineering, who tells El Reg. "We are going to try to blend the worlds. We will have RDO for continuous deployment, with RHOS being more like RHEL but RHOS will not lag as far behind RDO as RHEL does behind Fedora. We're going to be about three months behind with RHOS compared to the OpenStack trunk, and we need those three months for certification and testing."
Fedora is released on a six-month cadence, and RHEL is currently on a three-year cadence for major releases with one or two minor releases each year for updates. RDO is going to be right out there, next to the trunk, and RHOS will move at a pace that is more reminiscent of the early days of commercial-grade Linux - when Red Hat grabbed chunks of the latest kernel for needed features and then backported them to an earlier kernel for compatibility. RHOS will cherry-pick backports off trunk and certify them in a similar manner without breaking compatibility.
The reason why Red Hat started up RDO is not to compete with the OpenStack community, but to get a community gathered around the integration of OpenStack with Enterprise Linux and KVM. "There is a gap that needs to be filled," says Stevens. "The upstream OpenStack community is very vibrant, but there is work that needed to be done to better deploy OpenStack on RHEL."
By the way, the RDO release is not just restricted to RHEL, but will run on top of Fedora and any of the CentOS clones of RHEL as well. "We care that this is not just a Red Hat thing," says Stevens. "It's going to work really well on CentOS, and it should work really well on Oracle Linux, too."
Red Hat's software engineers have created a tool called PackStack, which is an installer that puts RDO across RHEL and its clones, loading up OpenStack on controller nodes and then slapping on KVM and RHEL on the server nodes in the cloud cluster. It then configures IP addresses, sets up Quantum networking services, and other features of the cloud controller.
The RDO distro will include PackStack as well as all of the core OpenStack projects – the Nova compute, Glance image management, Keystone identity management, Cinder block storage, Swift object storage, Horizon management console, and Quantum virtual networking plug-in – as well as incubating projects such as the Heat orchestration service and the Ceilometer resource monitoring and managing feature.
RDO is based on the latest stable releases of those projects, which means it is at the Grizzly release level right now. Grizzly, of course, was announced two weeks ago.
Commercial-grade RHOS by July or so
Red Hat had offered a technical preview release of RHOS (although it didn't call it that at the time) back in August last year, based on the Essex release of OpenStack. It said at the time that it hoped to get RHOS to market based on the Folsom release in early 2013.
That has not happened, and frankly, part of the reason is that so much outside of the OpenStack controller – including the Open vSwitch virtual switch for hypervisors and the KVM hypervisor – is changing so fast and affecting the OpenStack software that it was hard to meet that goal.
The tech preview of RHOS was self-supported only – meaning you were on your own, but the early adopter release of RHOS based on the Folsom release that is being announced today has tech support from Red Hat if you manage to get enrolled in the program. Red Hat hopes to get around a hundred early adopters to play around with the Folsom variant of RHOS, and the Red Hat sales force will by and large nominate the customers they think should get a look-see first. If you want to use the RHOS code at the Folsom level, you can do so and download it at www.redhat.com/openstack.
The cadence set out above for RDO and RHOS variants of OpenStack means that we can expect for Red Hat to roll out its enterprise-grade RHOS distribution in July or so, and a betting man would put money on RHOS being the star of the Red Hat Summit in mid-June with shipment promised in the weeks after the event. Stevens says that it will come out running atop Enterprise Linux 6.4, which is in beta now and which will be itself imminently launched.
In addition to the RDO community and RHOS preview, Red Hat is also creating a partner network that will allow for server, switch, and storage providers to get their wares certified to support the Red Hat variant of the cloud controller. The certification, which mirrors what the company did for Enterprise Linux a decade ago, will also certify that applications that run atop the cloud are certified for the RHOS stack. Around 30 partners have already joined the certification effort and it has not even been formally announced.
Top OpenStack code contributor now
Red Hat also wanted to talk about its contributions to the OpenStack community. Stevens says that there are about 100 employees in the core research and development team that are working on OpenStack. Red Hat did its first OpenStack commit in August 2011, and by the spring of 2012, when Essex was launched, Red Hat was the number three contributor. Red Hat joined the OpenStack Foundation when the governance issues were hammered out and Rackspace Hosting, which co-founded the project with NASA in July 2010, stopped running the project all by itself. (More or less.) And by the Folsom release, Red Hat was the number two contributor of code to OpenStack. Here we are with the Grizzly release just out, and Stevens says that Red Hat was the top contributor of code.
"This was kind of a surprise to us," says Stevens. "We were not gunning to be the top code contributor."
What Stevens says is more important than who cuts the paychecks for OpenStack contributions is the fact that more and more users and independent developers are coding away on OpenStack now. The Essex release was done predominantly by the corporate sponsors of the OpenStack project but with Grizzly, nearly half is coming from independent developers and users of the technology. ®