Piston coats OpenStack in secret Red Hat–killing sauce

Third major OpenStack release follows snubbing by Linux giant


OpenStack is like fried chicken: everyone kind of knows what its ingredients are, but uses their own oh-so-secret combination of spices to make it palatable.

What made cloud company Piston pique our appetite is that its particular flavor combination recently beat out a serving by rival Red Hat in a taste-test at a major Fortune 100 customer, which led to Red Hat briefly ejecting the company from its upcoming eponymous summit.

Now, Piston has announced the latest distribution of its infrastructure management system, Piston OpenStack 3.0, and claimed in a canned release that it is "The Last OpenStack Product You'll Ever Try."

This distribution features components of stock OpenStack, along with many "proprietary additions," Piston's chief technology officer Joshua McKenty told The Reg. "In order to build Piston OpenStack 3.0 we took a really aggressive stance on automation."

This focus on automation comes from Piston's use of an embedded Linux distribution called "Iocane Micro-OS".

The Micro-OS boots off the network directly into a RAM disk, making any OpenStack upgrade a reboot rather than a patch to disc.

"The big driver was security," McKenty explains. "We boot into RAM – never install to disc."

Iocane Micro-OS supports OpenStack Services, the KVM hypervisor, and Piston's "Moxie Runtime Environment". Moxie makes Piston's OpenStack install more reliable by using some clever techniques (like a distributed consensus voting system implemented via Apache Zookeeper) as a way to assure availability of the system in the case of equipment failure.

By pairing Moxie with the Micro OS, Piston is able to offer rolling (otherwise known as "hot") upgrades to OpenStack environments, letting individual nodes be updated via in-memory reboots to the OS and Moxie routing around the temporarily inactive gear.

"We can upgrade, in place, your entire OpenStack environment," McKenty old us. "We do this using a state machine to track dependencies and relationships."

These two features separate Piston's approach from that of the rest of the OpenStack distribution slingers, including Mirantis and Metacloud.

Additional features in Piston 3.0 include broad support for software-defined networking plugins, including VMware's NSX, Juniper's Contrail, as well as PLUMgrid, Cluster Management APIs, a redesigned [de-uglified?— Ed.] dashboard, and further configuration options for mixing and matching SSD, SATA, and SAS storage.

Piston 3.0 is available for free for 90 days, and thereafter costs $3500 per server per year (irrespective of core count, so you'd be paying the same price running off of a pizza box full of the latest Xeons as you would running some weedy Atoms), which includes 24/7 support. ®


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