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OpenStack Expands with Glance, Ubuntu and Cisco

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The OpenStack open source cloud computing platform is out today with a new release codenamed Bexar, introducing new cloud computing and storage technologies. Bexar provides support for IPv6 as well as the ability to have unlimited storage. The Bexar release also includes preliminary support for Glance – a new technology that will enable cloud image discovery and delivery.

OpenStack started out as a joint effort of NASA and Rackspace in July of 2010. The first platform release in October benefited from the contributions of over 35 technology vendors. With the new Bexar release, even more technology vendors are joining the effort, including Cisco and Canonical Ubuntu Linux. The Bexar release marks a milestone in the maturation of OpenStack as the effort continues to gain momentum as a key technology for cloud deployment.

The new Glance code is intended to be the glue that will tie cloud compute and storage technology together, Jonathan Bryce, chairman of the OpenStack project oversight committee and co-founder of the Rackspace Cloud told Glance is being run as a separate effort from the compute and storage components of OpenStack.

“Glance is an image management service,” Bryce said. “So when you want to take a snapshot of a running virtual machine and then store it somewhere for backup, or want the ability to provision a number of copies of it, then Glance is the technology that does that.”

Bryce added that the interesting thing about Glance is that it is a system that can be deployed together with OpenStack compute and storage, but it could also be backended by a public cloud service such as Amazon’s S3. Glance also publishes an API so it can also be plugged into different compute or virtualization engines.

“Glance is really meant to be a generic image management service to tie cloud computing, provisioning engines and storage systems together,” Bryce said.

Glance can also potentially be leveraged as a technology for doing cloud migration. Bryce noted that full live migration of OpenStack instances is being targeted as a feature for the next release of OpenStack, codenamed Cactus. That said, he noted that Glance can enable a fast migration for disaster recovery and be used to enable a geographically resilient OpenStack deployment.

With Bexar, OpenStack is also enabling users to boot up a raw image of an operating system stack. Bryce explained that users could for example make an ISO image of their Linux stack, which could then be enabled to run as a cloud service on an OpenStack deployment.

New Members

As part of the Bexar release, OpenStack also announced that a number of new technology vendors have joined the effort. One of the new members is Canonical, the lead commercial sponsor behind Ubuntu Linux. To date, Ubuntu has been using the Eucalyptus cloud computing stack as part of its Ubuntu Enteprise Cloud (UEC) offering and is now set to include OpenStack in future releases.

“The best packaging experience if you want to run OpenStack is through Ubuntu and some of that is because we have developers that have come from Canonical,” Bryce said. “I think what they’re now starting to talk about is including OpenStack as an option under UEC, which is pretty exciting. I think it will be good exposure for us.”

Bryce noted that Cisco is also joining the effort and they’ve participated in a number of initiatives. In January, Cisco’s CTO for the cloud, Lew Tucker told that he was very interested in open source and OpenStack in particular.

Moving forward, the next release of OpenStack is scheduled for April and will be codenamed, Cactus. Bryce noted that the big focus for that release will be on continuing to expand the scalability of the stack.

Part of the future expansion of OpenStack will also have to do with taking a new look at how networking works for the cloud platform. Bryce explained that today OpenStack can use VLAN or a flat networking model which can provide scale, but more needs to be done.

“When you start to think about where cloud will go in the next few years, there will combinations of cloud across public and private data centers and you’ll want to be able to setup networks that are secure and have resources that span all the different environments,” Bryce said. “To get to that point we need to define networking models that exist outside of the concepts of just computing and virtual machines and come up with good abract mechanisms for provisioning and control.”

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals.

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