OpenStack Networking Moving Ahead

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The developing cloud world is sometimes like the oft-repeated phrase in a popular commercial: “I’m not only the president, but I’m also a client.”

IT infrastructure provider Internap (INAP) has been an early adopter of OpenStack, releasing a public cloud product running on the OpenStack OS as early as October 2011. As well as being a user of OpenStack, the Internap team is also contributing members of the OpenStack development community.

Ken Pepple, director of cloud development for Internap, recently attended the OpenStack Design Summit & Conference, which was held in San Francisco in mid-April. The event occurred shortly after the latest release Essex was unveiled. Pepple is also the author of the O’Reilly title, “Deploying OpenStack: Creating Open Source Clouds.”

“We had an amazing update in this release cycle,” Pepple said. “We had more people at the conference who were actually in production. People have moved beyond the ‘proof of concepts.'” Existing components of OpenStack are compute, storage and an image service.

Quantum: Focus on Networking

Quantum, the networking component of OpenStack, while only released for those who “really know what they are doing” at this point, is expected to have a full roll-out in the next release, named Folsom. A greatly anticipated project, it will make networking software based, which is different from the existing hardware-based networking of today.

“Quantum will allow you to create your own networks,” Pepple said. “It will replicate common network architectures. It will allow you to create a new network architecture in your data center.”

Another interesting feature of the project is the players that have been heavily involved in the OpenStack Quantum project. In addition to service providers such as Internap (which has a long legacy in network optimization), the list includes hardware vendors like Cisco, and network virtualization companies, such as Nicira. This innovation is the future of networking, where software-based networks in the cloud are flexible, said Pepple. The approach is of interest to an array of companies from “small upstarts to large incumbents,” said Pepple.

What Quantum will enable is the creation of multiple networks layers for your cloud application, such as existing networks that have 3-tier, N-tier architecture, housing Web, applications and database functions. Until now the cloud had limited options, public facing or private. Your cloud was limited to two.

The advantages of creating your own network will be to save time, increase performance, meet compliance restrictions, and some would say most importantly, better cloud security. A basic tenant of security is defending “in depth.” The more layers created, the more walls an intruder must break through “before you get to the treasure,” said Pepple. “You want to slow down an intruder before it gets to the database.”

Other deployment benefits of a 3-tier architecture is that it is familiar and common, and IT teams don’t have to re-architect applications for the cloud. “Re-architecting is not simple,” Pepple said. “Sometimes it’s a many month adventure.”

Quantum will help with adoption of cloud, he said. “Right now,there is a minimal set of features L-2 networking. In October with Folsom, we will have L-3 networking and worked on a revision of the API.”

Pepple said that there is a steady cadence of new features added to OpenStack. This shows the fast pace of the projects, and for Pepple the need to supply electronic updates to his book.

In other news, within a few months of purchase of cloud host Voxel, Internap announced its launch of an automated, high-performance hosting service across a global footprint — New York, Dallas, Santa Clara, Amsterdam and Singapore. The service includes an online configurator that allows enterprises to instantly customize and provision both physical and virtual IT Infrastructure to meet diverse and rapidly growing business and application demands. The hosting service offering builds upon Voxel’s fully automated and unified dedicated and cloud hosting platforms.

About the Author

Colleen Miller is a journalist and social media specialist. She has more than two decades of writing and editing experience, with her most recent work dedicated to the online space. Colleen covers the data center industry, including topics such as modular, cloud and storage/big data.

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