VANCOUVER: The OpenStack framework is rapidly maturing into a business IT platform that is ready for enterprise-grade deployment, according to firms involved in the OpenStack community, including Intel which announced a technology called Clear Containers to secure containerised apps.
The OpenStack Foundation lined up a succession of organisations and vendors at the first OpenStack Summit of 2015 that are working to improve the platform or are already successfully operating it.
Some are using it on massive scale. eBay disclosed that its infrastructure already contains over 300,000 processor cores managed by OpenStack.
The message from many of those using and helping to develop OpenStack is that the platform has come a long way since it started as a joint project between Nasa and Rackspace back in 2010, and has become stable and mature enough for production purposes in a wide variety of use cases.
However, there is still room for improvement, especially when it comes to areas like setting up and updating an OpenStack cloud, according to Imad Sousou, general manager of Intel's Open Source Technology Centre.
"At Intel, we believe that software-defined infrastructure is the cornerstone of the modern data centre, and OpenStack is the cornerstone of software-defined infrastructure, but there is lot more work to do on it and a lot of sceptics out there," he said.
Sousou compared OpenStack with Linux, which has taken 20 years or so to mature to the point where organisations can buy something like Red Hat Enterprise Linux which is easy to install and operate.
"We need to get to that level with OpenStack and software-defined infrastructure, and there is a lot of work going on in the community to get there," he said.
Intel also detailed at the summit how the company is working to improve the security of containerised applications by using the VT-x extensions in its processors to enforce isolation between containers.
This is called Clear Containers, and is part of Intel's Clear Linux, a lightweight operating system intended for data centre operations with technologies such as container platforms.
"Intel's approach with Clear Containers offers enhanced protection using security rooted in hardware. By using virtualisation technology features [VT-x] embedded in the silicon, we can deliver the improved security and isolation advantages of virtualisation technology for a containerised application," said Sousou.
In addition, Intel's Clear Linux is able to launch a Clear Container in under 200ms, and able to run thousands of them on a single server node, according to Sousou.
Other firms discussing their involvement with OpenStack at the summit included Yahoo, which powers its online services with "hundreds of thousands" of servers managed by OpenStack.
US retail giant Walmart, meanwhile, disclosed that it has about 140,000 cores managed by OpenStack in the infrastructure used to operate its e-commerce platform.
"As production scenarios go, it doesn't get much more serious than Walmart on Black Friday," commented OpenStack Foundation executive director Jonathan Bryce.
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