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OpenStack Revamps To Build Cloud Momentum

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The OpenStack Foundation reveals its plan to get more users to contribute ideas to an open-source cloud effort

The OpenStack Foundation has explained how it seeking to build up its existing efforts to drive growth and momentum in the cloud space.

OpenStack is a multi-stakeholder effort to build a cloud platform that includes the participation of some the biggest names in IT, including IBM, Cisco, Dell, AT&T and Hewlett-Packard.

Structured Feedback

The basic idea behind any open-source project is that the code is open and available to all, with the opportunity for lots of people to contribute and collaborate. When it comes to actually getting input and contributions to a project, the voice of the user can sometimes be drowned out as vendors and code contributors get involved. It’s a challenge that the OpenStack Foundation understands and is aiming to tackle this year.

“We want to make it easier for people to contribute and find more ways to get people involved besides just bringing code,” Jonathan Bryce, executive director of the OpenStack Foundation, told eWEEK.

OpenStack LogoThe OpenStack Foundation already has a user committee in place as part of its structure, which aims to ensure the user’s voice is part of the OpenStack process. In 2014, the goal is to accelerate the manner in which user concerns and requests flow into the project and are then manifest in project blueprints and development.

Mark Collier, chief operating officer of the OpenStack Foundation, told eWEEK that in user meetups, they are now working to identify top pain points and get that information back to the development process earlier than ever before. The OpenStack cloud platform is just over three years old and to date, the way that user feedback has come in is at one of the Foundation’s semi-annual design summits. The goal now is to get the feedback in before a design summit.

“While certainly important decisions are made at OpenStack design summits every six months, a lot of thinking goes into a summit long before the event,” Collier said. “So we’re trying to get user feedback in a structured manner, well before the design summits so they can influence the roadmaps.”

The voice of the user also gets pulled through to the OpenStack technical development teams via the multiple vendors that are in fact contributing and developing code. Collier stressed that the OpenStack community is a large and vocal one and there are customers of OpenStack vendors who will talk openly about where they want OpenStack to go. That said, it has been the case, and will likely continue to be so, that the OpenStack vendor community also brings forward technical requirements from their own users.

Interoperability and Certification

From the very beginning of the OpenStack project, questions have been raised about interoperability among different OpenStack cloud implementations.

It’s a challenge that the OpenStack Foundation is now tackling head-on with a pair of efforts. The Defcore effort aims to assemble a core set of components and capabilities that define what an OpenStack cloud is all about.

“What really matters to users are the capabilities that are present in every product that is calling itself OpenStack,” Collier said.

The Defcore effort is now working on the required list of capabilities as well as the tests that will be used to determine and evaluate compliance, according to Collier. Only those products and deployments that pass the test will then be allowed to use the term “OpenStack.”

At this stage, the OpenStack Foundation is not talking about a formal certification program for compliance. Collier said that the role of the Foundation is about providing information and transparency such that users can make informed decisions.

Virtual Workloads

From a cloud interoperability and mobility perspective, the fact that a pair of cloud deployments are both OpenStack doesn’t necessarily mean that a user will have fully automated workload mobility. Currently, the way that an organisation can easily move a workload from one OpenStack cloud to another is by way of the OpenStack Glance image service. With Glance, the user can take a snapshot of the workload and then load that image onto another OpenStack cloud. Currently within OpenStack there is no vMotion-type capability similar to what VMware offers for data centre server virtualisation. With VMware vMotion running, workloads can seamlessly move from one server to another.

One thing that won’t change as OpenStack continues to evolve its process is there won’t be some form of “benevolent dictator” who sits at the top of the OpenStack community making decisions for all. Bryce noted that OpenStack today has a system of clear accountability and encourages feedback throughout its efforts.

“I would say that we have not seen a lack of leadership in OpenStack or a lack of direction,” Bryce said.”What we want to fix in 2014 is to improve the way all the different pieces of the OpenStack community work and interact together.”

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Originally published on eWeek.