What is OpenStack?

OpenStack isn't just about the cloud, it's a whole approach to how software can be built.

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BARCELONA - OpenStack is an open source cloud platform but that's not all that OpenStack is. In a session at the OpenStack Summit here, Thierry Carrez, Director of Engineering, detailed a broader view of what the entity known as OpenStack is really all about – and it is much more than just the cloud.

For Carrez, OpenStack's common goal is to build an interoperable cloud software platform while the role of the OpenStack Foundation is about how to structure things so that development work can get done.

One of the key things that the OpenStack Foundation provides is something that Carrez referred to as an asset lock.

"It's difficult to get different organizations to collaborate if one is holding the keys to the kingdom," Carrez said. "So you need a neutral venue for key assets of the community."

Among those key assets is the OpenStack trademark itself. Carrez noted that an organization can't call a product 'OpenStack' unless it has a basic level of interoperability with other products that call themselves OpenStack.

OpenStack is also about a very engaged operator community. Carrez explained that in OpenStack, Project Technical Leaders are aligned with developers and not appointed by sponsor companies. In Carrez's view, whenever technical leadership is not aligned with contributor there is a risk of forking.

"OpenStack places developers at the center of the model," Carrez said.

From a technical perspective, OpenStack is made up of multiple projects of varying usage. The Nova compute project is core and central, while there are also new projects like the Vitrage root cause analysis effort that are on the periphery.

The most important aspect of the project model of OpenStack is that all projects are under a single governance model in an effort to drive a degree of commonality across all OpenStack projects. By having commonalities across projects for formats and development methodologies, it possible to enable easier integration of projects as part of a larger platform.

OpenStack is also a set of principles, which include open source, open development, open design and open community.

"Many projects do open source but few do open design and development," Carrez said. "There is often a central group of developers that sets direction and the rest of the community is just there to find and fix bugs."

OpenStack is also a developer community of people aligned by having the same problems that they are looking to solve. Carrez noted that at its most basic level, OpenStack is mostly Python code.

Looking at a different angle of what OpenStack is, Carrez also sees it as a way to produce software. The OpenStack community has build an innovative and robust continuous integration, continuous development platform. Fundamentally the OpenStack infrastructure is a massively distributed, well-oiled machine.

"We're using this machine to product infrastructure software," Carrez said. "It's an integration engine and that means that whatever technology is coming next, OpenStack will be able to integrate it."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Datamation and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist




Tags: cloud computing, Cloud, OpenStack, public cloud computing


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