Red Hat has released the latest version of its OpenStack distribution that combines the most recent update of the OpenStack code with the Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) operating system, adding features to increase reliability and make deployment easier.
Available immediately, RHEL OpenStack Platform 7 (OSP 7) is the fifth generation of the firm's OpenStack distribution, and combines the capabilities of RHEL 7 with OpenStack Kilo, the most recent release of the cloud computing framework.
OSP 7 introduces a number of new features and enhancements, the most significant of which address the deployment and management of OpenStack itself and making the infrastructure more robust through high availability support, both key concerns for OpenStack users.
Deployment is tackled through a new feature called RHEL OpenStack Platform Director. This brings together several existing components such as the Foreman lifecycle management tool, the Spinal Stack software Red Hat gained from its acquisition of eNovance last year, and technology from OpenStack on OpenStack, or TripleO, an open source project aimed at enabling an OpenStack cloud to ‘bootstrap' itself from a single seed node.
Director provides a friendly face over this amalgamation, offering IT staff the choice of a graphical user interface or command line scripts to deploy OpenStack and then manage it afterwards, according to Mark Coggin, Red Hat's senior director of product marketing for platforms.
"Director basically simplifies the initial installation and ultimately simplifies how resources are managed post-installation," he told V3.
However, the resources that Director is managing comprise what Red Hat calls the "undercloud", the physical infrastructure that OpenStack runs atop, as opposed to the "overcloud", the set of resources to which the user has access, including the Nova compute nodes.
"So Director is a lot of the time dealing with the bare metal and Ironic, whereas the overcloud provisioning is largely done through Nova and the hypervisor, which in RHEL OSP is KVM," Coggin explained.
This is intended to make updating the OpenStack infrastructure much less trouble than it has been in the past.
"Before, if Nova was enhanced or if Ceilometer was enhanced, it was a very complex manual process for the user to do that upgrade," he added.
"We now have the capability with Director to let the user do future live system updates rather than doing it manually, so it allows rolling updates to occur, and that's going to be a key benefit for the future."
Red Hat has also integrated Director with the Ceph software-defined storage platform for block and object storage, which isn't surprising as Red Hat acquired Ceph developer Inktank last year.
With Ceph support, Director allows customers to provision both their OpenStack and Red Hat Ceph Storage clusters from one comprehensive tool and manage these over the full development lifecycle, Red Hat said.
Meanwhile, OpenStack users are also looking for help in hardening the platform and making it more enterprise-grade. Red Hat has addressed this by integrating the open source Pacemaker cluster resource manager into RHEL, and thus into the Nova compute nodes of OSP 7.
"This allows you to monitor those compute resources, making sure they're up and running. It sends alerts in the case of failure, and if a failure occurs it can clear out the virtual machines and respawn them onto another available host node, so it manages high availability at the compute node level," Coggin said.
Red Hat sees this as an important differentiator for the OpenStack distribution, but rival Linux firm Suse has had high availability support in the Suse Cloud platform since last year, which is also ultimately based on Pacemaker.
OSP 7 contains a number of other enhancements, including network features aimed at telecoms service providers, which have showed a great deal of interest in OpenStack as a platform to help implement new capabilities in software rather than hardware, otherwise known as network function virtualisation.
New features in the OpenStack Neutron module in Kilo offer IPv6 enhancements such as the ability to support direct network routing between tenants and the external gateway, for example, while Open vSwitch port security mechanisms provide greater granularity and control over network traffic ports at the virtual machine level, according to Red Hat.
A minor improvement is in incremental backup, with OSP 7 delivering faster block storage backups and a reduction in the storage space required for snapshot-based backups.
Coggin said that Red Hat has begun working closely with Intel on upstream projects, and with Dell and Cisco to go to market together with solutions for customers wanting to implement a private cloud based on OpenStack.
"We're bringing these capabilities to our customers, coupling the software skills and experience of Red Hat with the platform and infrastructure capabilities that Dell and Cisco have. That continues to be a series of important partnerships we've been working on," he said.
OSP is also a component of Red Hat's all-encompassing Cloud Infrastructure suite, which includes the Satellite lifecycle management tool and CloudForms for managing hybrid cloud deployments. The firm has not said if or when a new version of this will include OSP 7.
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