Use the source! OpenStack welcomes fresh tests for open-cloud unity

Foundation chiefs betting on tech firms' appetites to prove interoperability

Luke Skywalker

Openstack Summit Don't expect future implementations of OpenStack without vendors first having cleared a new battery of emerging conformity tests.

That's the word from OpenStack Foundation chief operating officer Mark Collier, who reckons the appetite to prove interoperability is too strong for tech providers to resist.

The impetus is coming as the foundation experiences pressure from a new batch of members in telecoms and banking unwittingly ready to fork OpenStack for their needs.

The foundation reckons 30 organisations contributing to OpenStack right now have never contributed to an open-source project despite using open source – up from 20 in 2014.

To help preserve both the code base and reputation of OpenStack, the foundation has therefore thrown its weight behind interoperability testing.

Sixteen vendors used the OpenStack Summit in Barcelona Wednesday to show off a test LAMP application successfully deployed and running on different hardware and OpenStack releases.

It was an interoperability challenge set by IBM six months ago at OpenStack in Austin, Texas.

"One of the things I definitely believe is from this day forward somebody who comes up with their next version of their OpenStack product aren't going to ship it unless it runs all of these products," Collier told The Reg after that mass demonstration of interoperability.

"The reason is when we planned this [interoperability challenge] we thought it would be five or six companies on stage but when word got out, the phone rang off the hook and the inbox was full – that shows nobody wants to not be in the list of products that are visibly known to be interoperate."

Jonathan Bryce, foundation executive director, said the challenge showed the value of interoperability. "We want to encourage people to remember that and how important that is: that you you might have to wait six months before this [certain feature] becomes a main part of that release but push it upstream and let's go through the path that ensures you are going to get this feature for ever and ensures it works with every part of the system versus trying to shortcut that."

To earn the OpenStack badge, firms must already prove they are compatible with the official legal specs and APIs. The new tests are application specific and focus on workloads.

They are the product of an OpenStack working group developing reference implementations around Heat and Chief in orchestration and container management, Docker and the Network Functions Virtualisation project as workloads; accompanying each is documentation and code in the orchestration tool. The OpenStack Foundation plans to promote these more heavily.

Collier reckoned against the need to make conforming to workloads mandatory. "I'm confident all the product companies will put that in their productisation process – they’ll say: 'OK, we won't ship until we pass the swarm workloads.' I don't think we need to mandate it in my opinion.”

The foundation, meanwhile, in August approved a new OpenStack spec that increased the number of capabilities from 125 to 225.

With more packed in to the basic spec, it's hoped there will be less desire from members to working on unsupported features

Interoperability has become a growing issue for OpenStack.

Forking is the bogeyman of all open-source projects and OpenStack has come under pressure from new members inexperienced in open source and anxious to press on with new features.

One unnamed member is understood to have forged ahead with its own DNS management system rather than await the OpenStack's efforts. OpenStack DNS management was finished in six months and available to all, as part of Nova, with the community member now regretting its decision to go it alone.

"The cost benefit is not there. The benefit is fleeting, the cost in time and money is high," Collier said.

Bryce reckoned the newer OpenStack intake might have consumed open source, in the shape of operating systems such as Red Hat Linux, but OpenStack is their first taste of participating in code.

"The first wave of open-source success was very similar to the consumption model of buying technology from a proprietary vendor," Bryce said. "To get open source into companies it took Red Hat coming along and selling something similar to Microsoft.

"Now you have OpenNFV and all these telcos who traditionally are not super directly involved in the development of the IP they use to run their networks are now are getting into the process.

"They are seeing the source code and saying: 'If I can do this, why can't I do that right now?' They just need to learn the dynamics." ®

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