OpenStack project TripleO speeds deployment, may threaten some third party tools

One of the biggest barriers in OpenStack right now is deployment. It’s complicated.

That’s why companies like Mirantis and eNovance that help businesses build OpenStack deployments are getting millions in investments. It’s why most of the marquee enterprise OpenStack deployments you hear of are at huge organizations that have the staff – or the deep pockets to hire a team of consultants – to build their OpenStack clouds. And it’s why companies like Puppet and Opscode have a big presence at OpenStack events, where they have a growing base of customers that use their products to help with deployment of OpenStack clouds.

That all could change. OpenStack now has an official program around TripleO, a project apparently largely funded by HP to develop tools that make it easy to deploy OpenStack. I suspect this isn’t welcome news for some of the third party tools designed to ease deployment, although it's possible the two tool sets can work together.

TripleO stands for “OpenStack on OpenStack,” because the idea is to use OpenStack to deploy OpenStack. Wired’s Cade Metz has an approachable take on this concept of cloud-on-cloud computing, with a bit of a story of the roots of TripleO.

In a blog post about the new OpenStack program, Robert Collins, distinguished technologist at HP, writes that less than a year ago he was tasked with working on a project that would solve the problem of deploying OpenStack for production.

“TripleO uses the standard OpenStack cloud approach for application deployments: automate everything, avoid doing repetitive work on machines by using golden images, use Heat to scale and coordinate the cluster... but we use it to deploy OpenStack itself,” he wrote.

Right now, he’s using TripleO to deploy a “full rack cloud” in 12 minutes. The group hopes to cut that in half “in the medium term.”

The official descriptions of TripleO take pains to suggest that the tools will work hand-in-hand with the third party products.

“A key goal of ours is to play nice with folk that already have deep investment in operational areas - such as automation via Chef/Puppet/Salt, or monitoring via icinga/assimilator etc.,” the TripleO page on the OpenStack Foundation web site reads.

I’ve asked Puppet and Opscode, developer of Chef, for their input on how TripleO might impact them. I'll update if I get any meaningful comment from them.

Update: Puppet had this to say: "TripleO is a provisioning tool, not a configuration automation tool. As their documentation shows, they point to Puppet for the actual configuration of the resources provisioned by TripleO. It is complementary solution, not a competitive solution, to Puppet."

Their tools might augment TripleO. At a recent OpenStack meetup in Los Angeles, a recording of which is available on YouTube, Clint Byrum, senior cloud software engineer at HP Cloud, seemed to suggest that the existing tools don't go far enough.

He mentioned Chef, Puppet, and Canonicals’ Juju as current methods for deploying OpenStack. “What you find is a lot of them aren’t doing enough to control entropy in the system,” he said. Once a system is deployed, users can come in and make changes in unexpected ways. “Then entropy stays and replicates and causes problems,” he said.

The idea is for TripleO to help with deployment as well as users grow their deployments, he said.

The code is useable today and work continues, largely, it sounds, thanks to backing from HP. “We're funding TripleO to help OpenStack be successful, we're funding it to improve how we deliver OpenStack to our customers, and we're funding it to help OpenStack become a better product,” Collins wrote.

Read more of Nancy Gohring's "To the Cloud" blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @ngohring and on Google+. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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