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Havana see your bare metal: New OpenStack v8 clinches containerization

Open-source cloud control freak emerges from shadows on Heat

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Open-source cloud controller OpenStack has gone into its eighth major release bringing with it technologies that should let admins chuck out hypervisors and spin up bare-metal clouds.

The "Havana" edition was announced on Thursday and brings with it several new technologies as well as the stability improvements and an uptick in code contributors typical of any release.

One of the key new features is the integration of OpenStack with Docker, an open-source technology that pretties up the Linux Container (LXC) elements of the kernel to give sysadmins standardized application sandboxes that are more usable and stable than predecessors.

"Docker providers an alternative to libvirt for managing LXC," Randy Bias, the chief executive of OpenStack company Cloudscaling, told The Register. "We see Docker as a very clean way to provide a bare-metal capability and allow some of those platform-as-a-service tools to do some deeper integration with OpenStack."

For Havana, the OpenStack community created a Docker driver to aid integration. This can increase the performance of clouds using the technology as they can do away with the overhead that comes with having to run a host OS per VM.

Though containerization has been around in various forms for a long, long time via chroot, LXC, and other schemes such as Solaris Containers (2005), among others, the technology has received more attention of late. Google has done significant work on the LXC part of the Linux kernel in a sign that, at least inside the Chocolate Factory, containerization is in major use.

Now, containerization is being plugged into OpenStack, following a similar adoption of Docker by Linux heavyweight Red Hat in September.

Besides containerization, OpenStack has also been given features found in typical data-center management systems via the addition of an orchestration project named Heat and a metering project named Ceilometer.

These make it possible to visualize OpenStack infrastructure, use templates for the rollout of new systems, and increases the ease with which admins can query the cloud and determine what is under load.

Other new features found in Havana include support for global clusters in the Swift object storage technology, bringing OpenStack up to date with other commercial companies in the space.

"Global clusters is really going to allow you to have multi-data center replication, and that's a key shortcoming in Swift - so that gap has been closed," Bias says.

As of this release, the OpenStack community now numbers almost 1,000 contributors ranging from huge companies such as Red Hat, IBM, HP and others down to smaller firms as well. Some big commercial users of the technology include PayPal, Workday, and Shutterstock.

With such a critical mass of contributors, and signs that some customers think it's worth running in production, we find ourselves wondering how long Cloudstack and Eucalyptus will persist, or whether there'll be merging in this part of the data center management world. ®

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