OpenStack Ready for Primetime?

OpenStack Ready for Primetime?

As a strong supporter and an active contributor to software defined networking (SDN), Silver Peak wouldn’t have missed the OpenStack Summit in San Diego. This year’s OpenStack Summit offered a forum both for engineering design discussions and user/partner experience exchanges. It was loaded with sessions in multiple categories and at all levels, and aimed to offer a comprehensive picture with in-depth details on today’s OpenStack.

OpenStack Ready for Primetime?I really enjoyed hopping between the design meetings and user sessions. One thing that stood out at this summit: Questions around OpenStack have moved from “When will OpenStack be ready for X?” to “What can I do with OpenStack now?” or, even better, “What I did with OpenStack is…” It shows the maturity of the architecture and its compelling potential. A few more key themes from this event:

  • The community is growing, and growing fast. There were 1,400 participants, up from 1,000 about six months ago. The nature of the conference created a comprehensive ecosystem with developers, customers, and partners.  It was a very nice balance between veteran companies such as Cisco, VMware, Dell, and HP, and interesting start-up/smaller companies with a laser focus on OpenStack, such as Midokura, Piston, Mirantis and others.
  • VMware and OpenStack. VMware first revealed its strategy with respect to OpenStack in August during VMworld. OpenStack appeared as one of the platforms in VMware’s vision of a comprehensive SDN platform. At this summit, Steve Herrod, CTO at VMware, attempted to reinforce that VMware will support both vCloud and OpenStack for their customers. Both architectures are SDN-enabled. There is no doubt that VMware will face fierce competition from Microsoft. Microsoft announced its Nova support on Hyper-V during this Summit. It plans to support Quantum with its new Hyper-V extensible switch. Quantum is the networking component inside OpenStack and the Hyper-V extensible switch is part of the Microsoft Server 2012, Microsoft’s software-defined network architecture. Now, two successful virtualization vendors are supporting SDN outside their proprietary cloud solution. This strongly validates Silver Peak Agility, a software defined acceleration solution that Silver Peak is promoting for the next-generation data center.
  • L4–L7 network service integration into OpenStack. The Summit had many sessions on L2-L3 network virtualization, including customer case studies and new features to be released in “Grizzly.” At the same time, the conversation has grown beyond L2–L3 overlay and into L4–L7 virtualization. There were design meetings about providing load balancing/firewall/VPN-as-a-service in Quantum. Not surprisingly, the conversation was driven by the now joint VMware and Nicira team, the same team who recently released the SDN networking and security architecture (also called NetX) as part of vCloud 5.1. There was also a very large community participating on this topic, consisting of seasoned networking and application professionals. WAN optimization did not have a separate session at this Summit but the Quantum team acknowledged that it would be the next segment soon after a template is developed from these discussions. I look forward to being part of these discussions. In addition to the efforts in Quantum, I also met other vendors who are working on providing L4-L7 virtualization, such as Midokura, and PLUMgrid. I am excited about their work, which will no doubt enrich the SDN architecture offering.

Overall, the passion and energy for open source and open standards is striking. The love toward network virtualization is overwhelming. In my opinion, there is still a good amount of feature gap that Quantum needs to fill before it becomes mainstream even for L2-L3 network connectivity, but it has enormous potential, especially in providing an orchestration layer for L4-L7 services. I eagerly look forward to hearing more from the Grizzly release in April 2013.

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