Four OpenStack Trends from Summit: Practical, Friendly, Effective and Deployable

With the next OpenStack Austin meetup on Thursday (sponsored by Puppet), I felt like it was past time for me to post my thoughts and observations about the Spring 2012 OpenStack design conference.  This was my fifth OpenStack conference (my notes about Bexar, Cactus, Diablo & Essex).  Every conference has been unique, exciting, and bigger than the previous.

My interest lies in the trend lines of OpenStack.  For details about sessions, I recommend Stefano Maffulli‘s  excellent link aggregation post for the Summit.

1. Technology Trend: Practical with Potential.

OpenStack started with a BIG vision to become the common platform for cloud API and operations.  That vision is very much alive and on-track; however, our enthusiasm for what could be is tempered by the need to build a rock solid foundation.  The drive to stability over feature expansion has had a very positive impact.  I give a lot of credit for this effort to the leadership of the project technical leads (PTLs), Canonical‘s drive to include OpenStack in the 12.04 LTS and the Rackspace Cloud drive to deploy Essex.  My team at Dell has also been part of this trend by focusing so much effort on making OpenStack production deployable (via Crowbar).

Overall, I am seeing a broad-based drive to minimize disruption.

2. Culture Trend: Friendly but some tension.

Companies at both large and small ends of the spectrum are clearly jockeying for position.  I think the market is big enough for everyone; however, we are also bumping into each other.  Overall, we are putting aside these real and imagined differences to focus on enlarging the opportunity of having a true community cloud platform.  For example, the OpenStack Foundation investment formation has moneyed competitors jostling for position to partner together.

However, it’s not just about paying into the club; OpenStack’s history is clearly about execution.  Looking back to the original Austin Summit sponsors, we’ve clearly seen that intent and commitment are different.

3. Discussion Trend: Small Groups Effective

The depth & quality of discussions inside sessions was highly variable.  Generally, I saw that large group discussions stayed at a very high level.  The smaller sessions required deep knowledge of the code to participate and seemed more productive.  We continue to have a juggle between discussions that are conceptual or require detailed knowledge of the code.  If conceptual, it’s too far removed.  If code, it becomes inaccessible to many people.

This has happened at each Summit and I now accept that it is natural.  We are using vision sessions to ensure consensus and working sessions to coordinate deliverables for the release.

I cannot over emphasize importance of small groups and delivery driven execution interactions: I spent most of my time in small group discussions with partners aligning efforts.

4. Deployment Trend: Testing and Upstreams matter

Operations for deploying OpenStack is a substantial topic at the Summit.  I find that to be a significant benefit to the community because there are a large block of us who were vocal advocates for deployability at the very formation of the project.

From my perspective at Dell, we are proud to see that wide spread acknowledgement of our open source contribution, Crowbar, as the most prominent OpenStack deployer.   Our efforts at making OpenStack installable are recognized as a contribution; however, we’re also getting feedback that we need to streamline and simplify Crowbar.  We also surprised to hear that Crowbar is “opinionated.”   On reflection, I agree (and am proud) of this assessment because it matches best practice coding styles.  Since our opinions also drive our test matrix there is a significant value for our OpenStack deployment is that we spend a lot of time testing (automated and manual) our preferred install process.

There’s a push to reconcile the various Chef OpenStack cookbooks into a single upstream.  This seems like a very good idea because it will allow various parties to collaborate on open operations.  The community needs leadership from Opscode to make this happen.  It appears that Puppet Labs is interested in playing a similar role for Puppet modules but these are still emerging and have not had a chance to fragment.

No matter which path we take, the deployment scripts are only as good as their level of testing.   Unreliable deployment scripts have are less than worthless.

Dell Cloud in the Community – events, speaking and sponsorships!

Members of various Dell Cloud teams are out and about!  You can catch us North, South, East, West and Central!

I get a lot of questions about the Dell Hosted Cloud (my team does “private hyperscale cloud“) so I’m glad to offer ACUG as a venue where people can talk to Stephen Spector and hear it from the source.

Date Topics Event Venue Sponsor
5/12 Topics: OpenStack Foundation, DevStack & Folsom Summit review. Austin OpenStack Meetup Austin, TX (Tech Ranch) Puppet Labs
5/15 Dell Public Cloud team will discuss and demonstrate vCloud running an HPC platform for highly processor intensive applications (Greenbutton and SAP) Austin Cloud User Group Austin, TX Dell Public Cloud
5/16 OpenStack Topics (TBD) including Folsom Summit review, Quantum, HyperV Boston OpenStack Meetup Boston, MA (Havard, Maxwell Dworkin 119) SUSE
5/16-17 DevOps applications for Chef on OpenStack private clouds using Crowbar. Chef User Conference San Francisco, CA Opscode
5/??
TBD
Help us kick out a rock solid Essex deploy using Crowbar and Chef. World Wide Essex Deploy Day Multiple Live & Remote Locations Dell OpenStack
5/23-24 Open source software in the government.  Specifically, I’m talking about  OpenStack, Hadoop and Crowbar.  I know that Cloudera and Canonical will be there. Military Open Source Charleston, SC Mill-OSS

PS: The slides are posted if you missed our 3-way joint session with Dell, Opscode & enStratus at the OpenStack Summit.

Did Austin Stackers get what we wanted at the OpenStack Design Summit?

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This post is a follow-up from the April 12 Austin OpenStack  (OSTAX) meeting.

Overall, we had a good meeting with strong attendance.  Unlike last meeting, the attendees were less OpenStack experienced; however, many us worked for companies that are members of the OpenStack Foundation.  I work for Dell (a gold sponsor).

Rather than posting before the summit, I’ve scored my summit experiences against our poll to see if our priorities were met.  (note: Thanks to Greg Althaus for additional input in the commentary)

Issue OSTAX Rank Results from Summit Outlook
Stability vs. Features Prioritization & Processes 68% This was a major thread throughout the summit in multiple sessions.   My feeling of the dialog was the stability (including continuous integration) was a core requirement. Excellent
API vs Code. What does it mean to be “OpenStack” 68% This is a good news / bad news story.  As OpenStack Compute gets split into more and more independent pieces; their interactions will require a well-defined externalized API.  The continuing issue is that these APIs will be still driven by the python-based reference implementation.  In some regards, APIs will emerge and be better codified.  Newer PTLs bring additional perspective and beliefs around APIs vs Code. Mixed
Operations focus: making OpenStack easy to deploy and manage 68% This was a major topic with many sessions dedicated to operationalizing OpenStack.  Special focus was given to shared Puppet and Chef deployment code.There were specific sessions around High Availability and what that means.  From this session, consensus was built for infrastructure HA documentation using Pacemaker for Folsom.  There was NOT consensus for instance-level HA. Trending Positive
Documentation Standards and improved user guides 59% Anne Gentle is championing this and had a presence throughout the summit. Strong
Driving for Hypervisor feature parity (KVM, Xen and also VMware/HyperV) 57% While Libvirt/KVM continues to dominate.  Citrix was present to support XenServer and Microsoft made commitments for (returning) HyperV support. Uneven Progress
Improving collaboration (get beyond listserv & IRC) so information is more persistent 56% I was not involved in discussions around this topic. No Comment
Have more operations discussion / design at the Design Summit 54% We had many sessions about operations tooling but little about specific considerations for operations.  Perhaps we need to take a step towards shared deployment scripts. Action with Fragmentation
Nova-volume to split out and/or more API driven (less integrated) 51% This was a major topic in multiple sessions.  There are a number of parties that are signing up to create block storage as a stand-alone project.Cinder will be the block storage service.  Not just good sessions were held, but good plans were built for constructing and improving the project.  The project will start as a clone of the current nova project with unique chunks living in Cinder and common pieces of both projects move to the openstack-common project.The Cinder working group is very cross company and had a strong desire to maintain a minimal specification (current API replacement) with only one additional feature required for Folsom (boot from volume).  The boot from volume feature is really a Nova feature, but the Cinder team will most likely drive it to ensure Cinder/Nova separation. Surprisingly Active
OpenStack on Windows & HyperV 50% This is two topics.  Microsoft is committing for OpenStack to support HyperV as a Nova Compute node.  Running the rest of the suite on Windows does not appear to be a priority (or practical?) Promising Potential
Orchestration. More projects like Donabe? 48% There are a number of ecosystem projects emerging.  Now that Essex has emerged as a solid release, I expect to see an acceleration projects.  At this time, they are still incubating.There was also the acknowledgement that there are two levels of orchestration, instance orchestration (think nova scheduler) and workload orchestration (think Donabe or VAPP).  Instance orchestration had many good discussions and improvements suggested and started (host aggregates, filter scheduler extensions, …) Building Slowly
Making Nova into smaller components 46% This was a thread in several sessions and it part of the ongoing stabilization work to improve collaboration.  One important component of this is moving common code into a shared library. In process, needs focus
How should invitations be handed out to Summit? Was the last process to Dev focused? 40% I was not aware of any discussion of this at the summit.  Looks like we all need to go out and commit some code! No Comment

Overall, I think that the Austin Stacker priorities were well positioned at the Design Summit.

After the split, I’m posted the twitter feed from the meeting (in post  order):

Continue reading

OpenStack Meetup 4/12: Austin at Summit, DevStack Essex

Austin Stackers!  This Thursday is our April meetup at the Austin TechRanch.

Please RSVP so that we know how much food to get!  SUSE is this Month’s sponsor for food and my team at Dell continues to pickup the room rental.  We have 35 RSVPs as of Monday noon – this will be another popular meeting (last meeting minutes).

Topics for the meetup are:

With the Summit next week, I think it is very important that we pre-discuss Summit topics and priorities as a community.  It will help us be more productive individually and for our collective interests when we engage the larger community next week.

OpenStack Austin: What we’d like to see at the Design Summit

Last week, the OpenStack Austin user group discussed what we’d like to see at the upcoming OpenStack Design Summit. We had a strong turnout (48?!).

  1. To get the meeting started, Marc Padovani from HP (this month’s sponsor) provided some lessons learned from the HP OpenStack-Powered Cloud. While Marc noted that HP has not been able to share much of their development work on OpenStack; he was able to show performance metrics relating to a fix that HP contributed back to the OpenStack community. The defect related to the scheduler’s ability to handle load. The pre-fix data showed a climb and then a gap where the scheduler simply stopped responding. Post-fix, the performance curve is flat without any “dead zones.” (sharing data like this is what I call “open operations“)
  2. Next, I (Rob Hirschfeld) gave a brief overview of the OpenStack Essex Deploy Day (my summary) that Dell coordinated with world-wide participation. The Austin deploy day location was in the same room as the meetup so several of the OSEDD participants were still around.
  3. The meat of the meetup was a freeform discussion about what the group would like to see discussed at the Design Summit. My objective for the discussion was that the Austin OpenStack community could have a broader voice is we showed consensus for certain topics in advance of the meeting.

At Jim Plamondon‘s suggestion, we captured our brain storming on the OpenStack etherpad. The Etherpad is super cool – it allows simultaneous editing by multiple parties, so the notes below were crowd sourced during the meeting as we discussed topics that we’d like to see highlighted at the conference. The etherpad preserves editors, but I removed the highlights for clarity.

The next step is for me to consolidate the list into a voting page and ask the membership to rank the items (poll online!) below.

Brain storm results (unedited)

Stablity vs. Features

API vs. Code

  • What is the measurable feature set?
  • Is it an API, or an implementation?
  • Is the Foundation a formal-ish standards body?
  • Imagine the late end-game: can Azure/VMWare adopt OPenStack’s APIs and data formats to deliver interop, without running OpenStack’s code? Is this good? Are there conversations on displacing incumbents and spurring new adoption?
  • Logo issues

Documentation Standards

  • Dev docs vs user docs
  • Lag of update/fragmentation (10 blogs, 10 different methods, 2 “work”)
  • Per release getting started guide validated and available prior or at release.

Operations Focus

  • Error messages and codes vs python stack traces
  • Alternatively put, “how can we make error messages more ops-friendly, without making them less developer-friendly?”
  • Upgrade and operations of rolling updates and upgrades. Hot migrations?

If OpenStack was installable on Windows/Hyper-V as a simple MSI/Service installer – would you try it as a node?

  • Yes.

Is Nova too big?  How does it get fixed?

  • libraries?
  • sections?
  • make it smaller sub-projects
  • shorter release cycles?

nova-volume

  • volume split out?
  • volume expansion of backend storage systems
  • Is nova-volume the canonical control plane for storage provisioning?  Regardless of transport? It presently deals in block devices only… is the following blueprint correctly targeted to nova-volume?

https://blueprints.launchpad.net/nova/+spec/filedriver

Orchestration

  • Is the Donabe project dead?

Discussion about invitations to Summit

  • What is a contribution that warrants an invitation
  • Look at Launchpad’s Karma system, which confers karma for many different “contributory” acts, including bug fixes and doc fixes, in addition to code commitments

Summit Discussions

  • Is there a time for an operations summit?
  • How about an operators’ track?
  • Just a note: forums.openstack.org for users/operators to drive/show need and participation.

How can we capture the implicit knowledge (of mailing list and IRC content) in explicit content (documentation, forums, wiki, stackexchange, etc.)?

Hypervisors: room for discussion?

  • Do we want hypervisor featrure parity?
  • From the cloud-app developer’s perspective, I want to “write once, run anywhere,” and if hypervisor features preclude that (by having incompatible VM images, foe example)
  • (RobH: But “write once, run anywhere” [WORA] didn’t work for Java, right?)
  • (JimP: Yeah, but I was one of Microsoft’s anti-Java evangelists, when we were actively preventing it from working — so I know the dirty tricks vendors can use to hurt WORA in OpenStack, and how to prevent those trick from working.)

CDMI

Swift API is an evolving de facto open alternative to S3… CDMI is SNIA standards track.  Should Swift API become CDMI compliant?  Should CDMI exist as a shim… a la the S3 stuff.

OpenStack Essex Deploy Day: First Steps to Production

One March 8th, 70 people from around the world gathered on the Crowbar IM channel to begin building a production grade OpenStack Essex deployment. The event was coordinated as meet-ups by the Dell OpenStack/Crowbar team (my team) in two physical locations: the Nokia offices in Boston and the TechRanch in Austin.

My objective was to enable the community to begin collaboration on Essex Deployment. At that goal, we succeeded beyond my expectations.

IMHO, the top challenge for OpenStack Essex is to build a community of deploying advocates. We have a strong and dynamic development community adding features to the project. Now it is time for us to build a comparable community of deployers. By providing a repeatable, shared and open foundation for OpenStack deployments, we create a baseline that allows collaboration and co-development. Not only must we make deployments easy and predictable, we must also ensure they are scalable and production ready.

Having solid open production deployment infrastructure drives OpenStack adoption.

Our goal on the 8th was not to deliver finished deployments; it was to the start of Essex deployment community collaboration. To ensure that we could focus on getting to an Essex baseline, our team invested substantial time before the event to make sure that participants had a working Essex reference deployment.

By the nature of my team’s event leadership and our approach to OpenStack, the event was decidedly Crowbar focused. I feel like this is an acceptable compromise because Crowbar is open and provides a repeatable foundation. If everyone has the same foundation then we can focus on the truly critical challenges of ensuring consistent OpenStack deployments. Even using Crowbar, we waste a lot of time trying to figure out the differences between configurations. Lack of baseline consistency seriously impedes collaboration.

The fastest way to collaborate on OpenStack deployment is to have a reference deployment as a foundation.

Success By The Numbers

This was a truly international community collaborative event. Here are some of the companies that participated:

Dell (sponsor), Nokia (sponsor), Rackspace, Opscode, Canonical, Fedora, Mirantis, Morphlabs, Nicira, Enstratus, Deutsche Telekom Innovation Laboratories, Purdue University, Orbital Software Solutions, XepCloud and others.

PLEASE COMMENT here if I missed your company and I will add it to the list.

On the day of the event, we collected the following statistics:

  • 70 people on Skype IM channel (it’s not too late to join by pinging DellCrowbar with “Essex barclamps”).
  • 14+ companies
  • 2 physical sites with 10-15 people at each
  • 4 fold increase in traffic on the Crowbar Github to 813 hits.
  • 66 downloads of the Deploy day ISO
  • 8 videos capture from deploy day sessions.
  • World-wide participation

For over 70 people to spend a day together at this early stage in deployment is a truly impressive indication of the excitement that is building around OpenStack.

Improvements for Next Deploy Day

This was a first time that Andi Abes (Boston event lead), Rob Hirschfeld (Austin event lead) or Jean-Marie Martini (Dell event lead) had ever coordinated an event like this. We owe much of the success to efforts by Greg Althaus, Victor Lowther and the Canonical 12.04/Essex team before the event. Also, having physical sites was very helpful.

We are planning to do another event, so we are carefully tracking ways to improve.

Here are some issues we are tracking.

  • Issues with setting up a screen and voice share that could handle 70 people.
  • Lack of test & documentation on Crowbar meant too much time focused on Crowbar
  • Connectivity issues distributed voice
  • Should have started with DevStack as a baseline
  • more welcome in the comments!

Thank you!

I want to thank everyone who participated in making this event a huge success!

OpenStack Essex Deploy Day & Meetup (3/8)

We, the Dell OpenStack team, think we’ve got everything ready for people to start hacking on Essex deployments today.  The event has been growing in size and scope.  For example, Fedora is also spending the day focused on Essex deployments.

Our plan is to have a coordination & training session at the top of every hour.  We’ll record the sessions so that you can pickup the thread even if you miss some of the session.  We’re using the Crowbar Github for event details.

We’ve made substantial progress in the last week on code that’s shifting: Ubuntu 12.04 support and getting the base Essex 4 operational.  I’ve also spun ISOs to help with the deploy – unlike previous versions, this one is just Crowbar core.  You’ll need to use the new barclamp import feature to add the OpenStack bits because we’re expecting those to change more frequently.

Please join us online today!

OpenStack Essex Deploy Day 3/8 – Get involved and install with us

My team at Dell has been avidly tracking the upsdowns, and breakthroughs of the OpenStack Essex release.  While we still have a few milestones before the release is cut, we felt like the E4 release was a good time to begin the work on Essex deployment.  Of course, the final deployment scripts will need substantial baking time after the final release on April 5th; however, getting deployments working will help influence the quality efforts and expand the base of possible testers.

To rally behind Essex Deployments, we are hosting a public work day on Thursday March 8th.

For this work day, we’ll be hosting all-day community events online and physically in Austin and Boston.  We are getting commitments from other Dell teams, partners and customers around the world to collaborate.  The day is promising to deliver some real Essex excitement.

The purpose of these events is to deliver the core of a working OpenStack Essex deployment.  While my team is primarily focused on deploys via Crowbar/Chef, we are encouraging anyone interested in laying down OpenStack Essex to participate.  We will be actively engaged on the OpenStack IRC and mailing lists too.

We have experts in OpenStack, Chef, Crowbar and Operating Systems (Canonical, SUSE, and RHEL) engaged in these activities.

This is a great time to start learning about OpenStack (or Crowbar) with hands-on work.  We are investing substantial upfront time (checkout out the Crowbar wiki for details) to ensure that there is a working base OpenStack Essex deploy on Ubuntu 12.04 beta.  This deploy includes the Crowbar 1.3 beta with some new features specifically designed to make testing faster and easier than ever before.

In the next few days, I’ll cut a 12.04 ISO and OpenStack Barclamp TARs as the basis for the deploy day event.  I’ll also be creating videos that help you quickly get a test lab up and running.  Visit the wiki or meetup sites to register and stay tuned for details!

OpenStack Essex Events (Austin & Boston 3/8, WW Hack Day 3/1, Docs 3/6)

The excitement over the OpenStack Essex release is building!  While my team has been making plans around the upcoming design summit in SF,  there is more immediate action afoot.

Tomorrow (3/1), numerous sites are gathering around a World Wide Essex Hack Day on 3/1.  If you want to participate or even host a hack venue, get on the list and IRC channel (details).

My team at Dell is organizing a community a follow-up OpenStack Essex Install Day next week (3/8) in both Austin and Boston.  Just like the Hack Day, the install fest will focus on Essex release code with both online and local presence.  Unlike the Hack Day, our focus will be on deployments.  For the Dell team, that means working on the Essex deployment for Crowbar.  We’re still working on a schedule and partner list so stay tuned.  I’m trying to webcast Crowbar & OpenStack training sessions during the install day.

The hack day will close with the regularly scheduled 3/8 OpenStack Austin Meetup (6:30pm at Austin TechRanch).  The topic for the meetup will be, …. wait for it …., the Essex Release.  Thanks go to HP and Dell for sponsoring!

It’s important to note that Anne Gentle is also coordinating an OpenStack Essex Doc Day on 3/6.

To recap:

Wow… that should satisfy your Essex cravings.

Austin OpenStack Meetup: Keystone & Knife (2/20 notes via Greg Althaus)

I could not make it to the recent Austin OpenStack Meetup, but Greg Althaus generously let me post his notes from the event.

Background

Matt Ray talks about Chef

Matt Ray from Opscode presented some of the work with Chef and OpenStack. He talked about the three main chef repos floating around. He called out Anso’s original cookbook set that is the basis for the Crowbar cookbooks (his second set), and his final set is the emerging set of cookbooks in OpenStack proper. The third one is interesting and what he plans to continue working on to make into his public openstack cookbooks. These are an amalgamation of smokestack, RCB, Anso improvements, and his (Crowbar’s).

He then demoed his knife plugin (slideshare) to build openstack virtual servers using the Openstack API. This is nice and works against TryStack.org (previously “Free Cloud”) and RCB’s demo cloud. All of that is on his github repo with instructions how to build and use. Matt and I talked about trying to get that into our Crowbar distro.

There were some questions about flow and choice of OpenStack API versus Amazon EC2 API because there was already an EC2 knife set of plugins.

Ziad Sawalha talks about Keystone

Ziad Sawalha is the PLT (Project Technical Lead) for Keystone. He works for Rackspace out of San Antonio. He drove up for the meeting.

He split his talk into two pieces, Incubation Process and Keystone Overview. He asked who was interested in what and focused his talk more towards overview than incubation.

Some key take-aways:

  • Keystone comes from Rackspace’s strong, flexible, and scalable API. It started as a known quantity from his perspective.
  • Community trusted nothing his team produced from an API perspective
  • Community is python or nothing
    • His team was ignored until they had a python prototype implementing the API
    • At this point, comments on API came in.
  • Churn in API caused problems with implementation and expectations around the close of Diablo.
    • Because comments were late, changes occurred.
    • Official implementation lagged and stalled into arriving.
  • API has been stable since Diablo final, but code is changing. that is good and shows strength of API.
  • Side note from Greg, Keystone represents to me the power of API over Code. You can have innovation around the implementation as long all the implementations have a fair ground work to plan under which is an API specification. The replacement of Keystone with the Keystone Light code base is an example of this. The only reason this is possible is that the API was sound and documented.  (Rob’s post on this)

Ziad spent the rest of his time talking about the work flow of Keystone and the API points. He covered the API points.

  • Client to Keystone, Keystone to Client for initial auth token
  • Client to Middleware API for the services to have a front.
  • Middleware to Keystone to verify and establish identity.
  • Middleware to Service to pass identity

Not many details other then flow and flexibility. He stressed the API design separated protocol from actions and data at all the layers. This allows for future variations and innovations while maintaining the APIs.

Ziad talked about the state of Essex.

  • Planned
    • RBAC (aka Role Based Access Control)
    • Stability
    • Many backends
  • Actual
    • Code replacement Keystone Light
    • Stability
    • LDAP backend
    • SQL backend

Folsum work:

  • RBAC
  • Stability
  • AD backend
  • Another backend
  • Federation was planned but will most likely be pushed to G
    • Federation is the ability for multiple independent Keystones to operate (bursting use case)
    • Dependent upon two other federation components (networking and billing/metering)