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OpenStack 'Grizzly' control freak puffs up clouds of vastness

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The OpenStack community is keeping faithful to its six-month spring-fall cadence for software releases: today, the world receives an OpenStack update codenamed Grizzly.

The project's update cycle allows the cloud controller to be improved at a fairly rapid clip, and is roughly in sync with upgrades for popular Linux operating systems distros. It may be hard to believe, but the Grizzly package announced today is the seventh OpenStack release into the wild.

And according to Mark Collier - who formed the OpenStack project with former NASA CTO Chris Kemp nearly three years ago and who is now chief operating officer at the OpenStack Foundation - the code-base for the Grizzly release weighs in at about 820,000 lines of code for the core OpenStack controller and the ten core sub-projects associated with it.

That's about a 35 per cent increase in lines of code compared to the "Folsom" release of OpenStack, which was arguably the first production-grade release of the cloud controller that came out in late September. OpenStack is written in Python, by the way.

The Grizzly release has 230 new features, says Collier, and there were at least 517 contributors to the overall release, which includes a slew of stability and performance tweaks as well as new features.

The contributor count is up 56 per cent compared to the Folsom release. The key code contributors for Grizzly came from Red Hat, Rackspace, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Nebula (which was founded by Kemp and which has created an OpenStack controller appliance that debuted this week), Intel, eNovance, Canonical, VMware, Cloudscaling, DreamHost, and SINA.

"Grizzly is a great release on a lot of fronts, but what has been truly great about the release is the collaboration," Jonathan Bryce, an ex-Racker who is executive director at the OpenStack Foundation these days, told El Reg. "This is one of the largest software projects in the world, and every time a merge comes in, it is automatically tested before it is accepted."

More than 7,600 patches were merged into the OpenStack code during the Grizzly release cycle, and Bryce said that the code was spun up and tested on an average of 700 baby OpenStack clouds each day for the past six months before each code snippet was accepted into the base. That baby cloud capacity is donated by Rackspace, Hewlett-Packard, and others from their public clouds.

Scalability improvements

With Grizzly, OpenStack is being tweaked to get it closer to the lofty scalability goals that NASA and Rackspace set when they founded the project back in 2010, which was to have a cloud controller fabric that could span 1 million physical server nodes and up to 60 million virtual machines.

Grizzly is nowhere near this upper limit, but with a new feature called Compute Cells and an architectural change to how hosts in an OpenStack cluster talk back to the controller, Bryce said the scalability of Grizzly is considerably larger than Folsom.

The Compute Cells feature aggregates multiple OpenStack controllers and manages them as a single instance. Basically, it takes multiple Nova compute controller instances from OpenStack and links them through an AMQP broker to each other, with each Nova cell managing its own subset of server nodes in the cluster but under the control of a master Nova controller.

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