The World of OpenStack
OpenStack. In computing, and especially distributed computing, it’s a staple, in conversation and in workflow. People tend to elevator-pitch it as “an open operating system for the cloud,” “Linux on steroids,” and “a framework based around open source software.”
As one software aficionado put it: “It’s a bunch of scripts (translation: instructions) that help create clouds and virtual machines to deploy file systems and storage and a bunch of other stuff.”
Getting clearer? Here’s more. It started in July of 2010 as a collaborative project between NASA and Rackspace, with a goal of making it easier to use regular, off-the-shelf computing hardware to handle public and private cloud activities.
Last month, Time Warner Cable posted a tech blog titled “One Year Later: Setting Up OpenStack at TWC,” penned by its lead “stacker,” Matt Haines (real title: VP, Cloud Engineering and Ops.) In it, he describes how his agile team “designed and deployed an enterprise-grade cloud,” using OpenStack, in its two national data centers.
Comcast began its OpenStack cloud work three years ago, in 2012, to support its X1 rollout — navigation first, then apps, and now video (it’s what’s behind “cloud DVR.”)
Both providers settled on OpenStack as an alternative to buying proprietary set-tops, control components, and servers from the same company. Troubleshooting gets easier, they submit. Rolling out new services, features and bug-fixes gets (way, way) faster.
It’s worth pointing out here that the long-held industrial fears about open anything are rapidly melting away. No longer are concerns about mad coders “doing harm to the network” a definitive reason to not take an open source route.
More, the tech mantra today is one of “disrupt, or be disrupted.”
The vendor community, always in a weird spot when their customers decide to lean toward “build” vs. “buy,” is following suit. Cisco, during the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show, heavily emphasized its investment in, and development of, Openstack-based components for multichannel video providers.
It follows that OpenStack is behind all the tech talk about “transparency,” and the tales about how this-or-that was about to go kaflooey, but because they had visibility into the software (which always comes in “stacks”), they fixed it (in hours, not months), averting disaster. Anecdotes like this abound in OpenStack speak.
Everything about OpenStack is open, even how papers are vetted for its annual conferences, which attract around 5,000 attendees, twice a year, for five days. (The “stackers” met in Atlanta and Paris last year.) For the Paris confab, in November, 1,100 papers were submitted for consideration (by contrast, cable’s tech events typically attract around 300 papers, vetted by committee.) The entire OpenStack community voted on who spoke.
As “open” stuff goes, OpenStack is decidedly one to know. They meet again in Vancouver, from May 18-22; on any given day, regional groups host meet-ups all over the world. Time to get your stack on.
This column originally appeared in the Platforms section of Multichannel News.