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OpenStack – which flavour do you need?

With open source at its core, you’d be hard put to argue against the freely available code being one of the reasons for OpenStack’s success. It could be debated that other open cloud platforms haven’t seen as much uptake compared to OpenStack because of this – it’s now one of the largest collaborative programming projects on the planet.

Some people think OpenStack is just virtualisation, but that isn’t the case. Its advantages go far beyond that, as it allows you to rapidly create and adapt your infrastructure much quicker than you could normally do with just a virtual machine sitting on a server.

There are hundreds of core developers who contribute code on a daily basis and thousands who make less regular contributions (including myself). The results of the last OpenStack user survey saw the start of a major shift away from Proof of Concept and test environments into production environments. It now underpins huge corporate infrastructure networks and the list of companies joining the foundation, which governs OpenStack, is continuing to grow.

Early attempts to add value to this were vendors who tried to create OpenStack appliances and we still see a continuation of this where vendors release reference architectures. But, this has always struck me as running completely contrary to the idea of the open cloud.

One of the key advantages is to be able to choose exactly the networking, storage, compute and other components and construct a cloud infrastructure to work with your data in your own way. In the High Performance Computing (HPC) sphere, different users have very different requirements and open source cloud offers the ability to provide services that match these varying needs.

When it comes to which flavour of OpenStack to use and the decision to use being either a commercial or freely available distribution, the choices are usually financially driven. However, there are advantages as well as drawbacks to both routes, which aren’t always immediately considered.

If you’re willing to accept a private cloud with the odd rough edge and you have the in-house capabilities to provide a measure of infrastructure support, RDO will be a good choice. If your needs are for stability and the ability to call on many eyes to rapidly debug a problem, then OSP is the product to consider. I’ll be looking at these two options in more detail in my next post.

OCF has the people, expertise and resources to help you make the best decision as to whether OpenStack is right for your organisation. Please feel free to leave a comment on your experience with OpenStack or get in touch with OCF for more information.

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