The OpenStack project has officially released Icehouse, the latest version of its cloud computing framework, with a focus mainly on stability and consolidation. However, it does add new features such as a database service, improved support for Containers, and early support for Hadoop deployments on OpenStack clouds.
Available to download from today, Icehouse is the ninth incarnation of the open-source cloud framework, which can trace its roots back to collaboration between hosting firm Rackspace and Nasa in 2010.
According to Rackspace, which still plays a leading role in OpenStack's development, the Icehouse release is more about stability and consolidating the existing code rather than adding a slew of new capabilities.
Rackspace chief technology officer John Engates told V3: "I look at OpenStack and there has been a trend where one release adds a whole bunch of new stuff, and then they spend time solidifying that and getting it stable. In this release, we're seeing a lot of bugs resolved in Nova, for example and work on improving scalability so OpenStack will be useful in a larger-scale cloud."
The upgrade process has now been tweaked to eliminate downtime, Engates said. In prior releases, deploying a major upgrade required downtime, but now the infrastructure can be upgraded in steps.
"First, you upgrade the cloud controllers and then you go through and upgrade each of the cloud-computing nodes in sequence, so that the whole thing isn't down all at once. That's a big deal because the expectation is that clouds will always be running," he explained.
However, Icehouse does introduce some new features as well. Among these is a new module called Trove that enables users to operate a database as a service (DBaaS) facility from their OpenStack cloud.
Trove is based on technology that Rackspace developed for its own cloud database service. It is essentially a set of application-programming interfaces (APIs) that enable a virtual machine instance to be spun up under software control and MySQL to be deployed and configured as required.
Rackspace's OpenStack evangelist Ken Hui said: "Since that has been donated to the OpenStack ecosystem as Trove, we've now added the ability to spin up a NoSQL database such as Cassandra or Riak."
Another change in Icehouse concerns support for Linux Containers and the Docker project, which extends the Container capabilities. In earlier releases, Containers were treated as if they were virtual machine instances and provisioned from the Nova compute module using a driver, but this was not ideal.
In this release, Containers are instead provisioned by the Heat orchestration tool, which is used to deploy applications and services.
"The Docker folks worked on that and decided that Heat is the best way to launch software in Containers. Since Containers rely on an operating system there are more layers involved than simply spinning up a VM [virtual machine]," said Hui.
"We're very excited about Docker. Docker has become one of those really hot technologies out there, and we use it quite heavily at Rackspace already," said Engates.
Projects that are still under incubation in Icehouse are Sahara, Ironic and Marconi, addressing Hadoop support, bare metal provisioning and queuing services.
Sahara, formerly known as Savannah, allows users to deploy Hadoop as a service on top of OpenStack, while Marconi is based on technology that Rackspace is already using to provide messaging between components of complex web applications.
Ironic, meanwhile, is being developed to allow for bare metal provisioning of physical servers rather than virtual machines, but orchestrated through the same management interface as the rest of OpenStack.
"Bare metal is another future direction for cloud. Most people think of cloud as virtualised machines provisioned to customers, but a lot of customers still gravitate towards bare metal servers for certain workloads. If we can provide that in the same context as the same way we provision virtual machines, I think customers will really value that," said Engates.
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