OpenStack Foundation close to settling on interoperability policies

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While talking to Jonathan Bryce, executive director of the OpenStack Foundation, about today's release of the eighth version of the cloud software, I also got an update on the organization's efforts to improve the interoperability situation. New capabilities that come with Havana -- the latest version of OpenStack -- combined with rules that could better support interoperability, could start attracting more enterprise users to OpenStack.

Image credit: Flickr/twicepix

First, the interoperability update. OpenStack came under the microscope earlier this year when some people noted that some so-called OpenStack clouds strayed pretty far from the main trunk. The trouble was, the OpenStack Foundation didn’t have a policy or a set of standards that companies could adhere to in order to legitimately say they had an OpenStack cloud.

That’s about to change. Bryce said that two efforts have been moving full steam ahead and the board could sign off on them as soon as the November board meeting.

One of the efforts is around defining what is required for a cloud to be considered OpenStack and thus use the OpenStack trademark. The second related effort is developing tools that could be run against a cloud to verify the feature set and compatibility of an OpenStack cloud.

“The goal is to come out of the November board meeting with some decisions,” Bryce said. However, he cautioned that it’s a complicated process that the community needs to have time to offer input on and so the board isn’t going to push through any decisions before it’s comfortable with the policy.

Interoperability is an important issue, particularly for enterprises. Businesses not only want to be able to switch to a new vendor for private cloud software, they also want to be able to easily build hybrid clouds. Real interoperability helps in both regards.

According to Bryce, more enterprises are showing interest in OpenStack.

Curiously though, the forthcoming OpenStack Summit in Hong Kong has very few new enterprises scheduled to talk about their deployments. Earlier this year at the summit in Portland, Oregon, we heard from PayPal, Comcast, Best Buy, CERN and Hubspot, all of which were named on the schedule in advance. Others, like Bloomberg, weren’t on the schedule but appeared during the keynotes.

This year’s schedule, however, has a few repeats, like PayPal and CERN, as well as Yahoo, which didn’t speak last year but is well known for its involvement with OpenStack. The only other name that’s recognizable to me is Workday. Others include Ctrip and GreenXity.

Bryce said that at the recent Gartner Symposium, many companies with household names in manufacturing, retail and financial services approached him to say they’re using OpenStack. He said to expect to hear more specifics from some of these names at the summit and after.

As far as Havana, Bryce highlighted a couple of important new features among the 400 new ones. One is a metering and monitoring tool that lets an admin see by individual person who is using which resources. For a service provider, this would be useful for billing. For an enterprise, IT can use this information for chargebacks. The data can also offer visibility into bottlenecks.

Havana also includes new orchestration capabilities that allow a user to specify the resources an app requires and then set it to run. Integrated with the metering and monitoring functions, this could be used for basic levels of autoscaling, said Bryce.

Finally, Havana also adds support for global clusters. For an international business, that allows for geographic load balancing so that content can be served up to users from the closest data center, for improved performance. It can also be helpful in the event of a data center outage.

Nick Barcet, who is an OpenStack board member and is VP of products for eNovance, a company that builds and manages cloud deployments for companies, said Havana adds some features that its customers have been looking forward to. "With Havana, we are seeing great progress in SDN support and networking in general, key orchestration and auto scaling functionality, multi-data center support in object storage, Cell support to hyperscale datacenters, and much more. These are all features that our customers have been waiting for and/or participated in the development," he said.

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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