The latest OpenStack, code named Newton has just been released. If you remember your Physics 101 – classical mechanics is based on Isaac Newton’s three laws of motion. The first law deals with inertia – objects will remain at rest or move at constant velocity unless acted upon by an outside force. The second law is all about acceleration – the forces acting on a object will cause that object to accelerate and the rate of acceleration is proportional to the force. The third law is frequently stated as for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. (OK, this is a bit simplified. If you want more – Newton’s_laws_of_motion).
Now that we have finished the review – you are wondering how OpenStack fits in.
If anything in the IT world has inertia, it is enterprise applications and workloads. They are big, they are complex and many organizations don’t want to change them unless absolutely necessary. With recent enhancements such as Manila and high availability, OpenStack can provide the infrastructure services that enterprise applications depend on. This makes it easier to move these workloads into a cloud infrastructure without going through costly rewrites before doing so is needed for business reasons. At the same time, using cloud to provide self service for test and development increases productivity and reduces administrative overhead and cost.
Force and acceleration – there are a lot of forces acting on today’s IT organizations – the marketplace, the budget, the technology. The business has to accelerate to meet the challenges facing it or fail. By introducing new capabilities such as Magnum that are ideal for creating cloud native applications, OpenStack provides the tools needed for IT to adapt to changes fast. The platform is ideally suited to quickly develop and deploy new business services to both internal and external customers.
Then we come to the third law. Unfortunately, in most business contexts, this is a negative – a push to try new approaches or technologies meets resistance with the result that an organization gets stuck in the middle. While this is as much a management issue as a technical one and should be addressed before starting to implement a private cloud, OpenStack has the flexibility to address both current (in Gartner terms Mode 1) applications while providing the framework to start building Mode 2 workloads. By encompassing traditional technologies such as virtualization while also enabling the use of cloud native approaches to automation and deployment, both can coexist – you won’t need to throw out everything you know and start over. And to help overcome internal resistance, OpenStack has a couple of advantages based on its governance model. Firstly, it is an opensource, community driven project which means that there are many people working to solve problems that are similar to yours. Secondly, OpenStack is not a single monolithic code base – it is possible to start small with a limited set of services to address a specific use and expand as the organization gets more comfortable with the approach.
In summary – OpenStack has the flexibility to address a wide range of IT challenges and can provide a solid platform on which to build the software defined infrastructure of the future. It continues to attract more organizations and contributors to the community almost as if it has gravity. Newton had thoughts about gravity as well, which I’ll leave for another day.