As OpenStack enters rapids with Grizzly, watch for strong currents, hidden rocks & eddies.

White Water

Play Boating From Wikipedia

I enjoy kayaking white water rapids – they are exhilarating and demanding. The water accelerates around obstacles and shows its power. You cannot simply ride the current; you must navigate your way around obstacles, stay clear of eddies that pull you back and watch for hidden rocks. The secret to success is to read the current and make small adjustments as you are carried along – resistance is futile.

After the summit, I see the OpenStack with the Grizzly release like water entering the rapids. The quality and capability of the code base continues to improve while the number of players with offerings in the ecosystem is also increasing rapidly. Until now, there was plenty of room to play together; however, as scope, activity and velocity increase there will more inter-vendor interactions.

As a member of the OpenStack board, I have tremendous enthusiasm for what the OpenStack community has accomplished. There have been some really positive accounts of the summit including CSC “OpenStack gains maturity…“, Silicon Angle “OpenStack has reached a Flash Point”, Randy Bias’ “OpenStack is THE Stack”, Wayne Walls “Hallway Track” and much more on the Planet OpenStack aggregator.

In fact, we’ve created such a love fest for OpenStack that I fear we are drinking our own kool aide.

I have a responsibility to be transparent and honest about challenges facing the us because it’s the Foundation’s job to guide us forward. My positions result from many conversations that I had throughout the week of the Summit. They are also the result of my first hand experiences along with my 14 years of cloud experience.

Over the next posts, I’ll explore a number of these topics with the goal of helping navigate a path through the potential turbulence. The simple fact is the OpenStack is growing quickly and that creates challenges:

  1. A growing number of new developers are joining. Since our work surface area is expanding, it’s both easier than ever to participate and harder to navigate where to begin. We need to get ahead of the design cycles.
  2. A growing number of non-devs are participating and bringing important contributions and experience. We must include them in the OpenStack meritocracy because they speak for the quality and usability of the project.
  3. A growing number of companies (many “name brands”) who are still trying to figure out how to participate and collaborate in open source projects. Lack of experience increases the risk of divergence (forking) and market confusion.
  4. A growing number of products based on OpenStack also increases forking risk as OpenStack contributors feel compelled to differentiate.
  5. A growing number of core components (compute+block+network+…) that are required to have base functionality.
  6. A growing number of incubated projects that continue to stress innovation and pace of change that challenges the very question of “what is OpenStack?”
  7. A growing number of deployed sites offering OpenStack clouds but the community lacks a way to verify (or really discuss) compatibility between the sites.

This list is a cause for celebration not a cause for alarm – every item is a challenges based on our success. The community and Foundation are already working to address the risks.

While some of us enjoy the chaos and excitement of rapids, other can take comfort from the fact that they are always followed by calm waters. Don’t worry – we’ll navigate through this together.

“Stack Shop” cover of Macklemore’s Thrift Shop

Sometimes a meme glitters too strongly for me to resist getting pulled in… that happened to great effect that just before the OpenStack Havana summit. When my code-addled mind kept swapping “poppin’ tags” for “OpenStack” on the radio edit, I stopped fighting and rewrote the Thrift Shop lyrics for OpenStack (see below the split).

With a lot of help from summit attendees (many of them are OpenStack celebrities, CEOs, VPs and members OpenStack Foundation board), I was able to create a freaking awesome cover of Macklemore’s second hand confection (NSFW).

Frankly, I don’t know everyone in the video (what, what?)!

But here’s a list of those that I do know.  I’m happy to update so the victims actors get credit.  Singers (in order):

Rob Hirschfeld (me) & Monty Taylor, Peter Poulliot, Judd Maltin, Forrest Norrod, Josh Kleinpeter, Tristan Goode, Dan Bode, Jay Pipes, Prabhakar Gopalan, Peter Chadwick, Simon Andersen, Vish Ishaya, Wayne Walls, Alex Freedland, Niki Acosta, Ops Track Monday Session 1, Ben Cherian, Eric Windisch, Brandon Draeger, Joseph B George,  Mark Collier, Joseph Heck, Tim Bell,  Chris Kemp, Kyle McDonald & Joshua McKenty,

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OpenStack’s next hurdle: Interoperability. Why should you care?

SXSW life size Newton's Cradle

SXSW life size Newton’s Cradle

The OpenStack Board spent several hours (yes, hours) discussing interoperability related topics at the last board meeting.  Fundamentally, the community benefits when uses can operate easily across multiple OpenStack deployments (their own and/or public clouds).

Cloud interoperability: the ability to transfer workloads between systems without changes to the deployment operations management infrastructure.

This is NOT hybrid (which I defined as a workload transparently operating in multiple systems); however it is a prereq to achieve scalable hybrid operation.

Interoperability matters because the OpenStack value proposition is all about creating a common platform.  IT World does a good job laying out the problem (note, I work for Dell).  To create sites that can interoperate, we have to some serious lifting:

At the OpenStack Summit, there are multiple chances to engage on this.   I’m moderating a panel about Interop and also sharing a session about the highly related topic of Reference Architectures with Monty Tayor.

The Interop Panel (topic description here) is Tuesday @ 5:20pm.  If you join, you’ll get to see me try to stump our awesome panelists

  • Jonathan LaCour, DreamHost
  • Troy Toman, Rackspace
  • Bernard Golden,  Enstratius
  • Monty Taylor, OpenStack Board (and HP)
  • Peter Pouliot, Microsoft

PS: Oh, and I’m also talking about DevOps Upgrades Patterns during the very first session (see a preview).

DevOps approaches to upgrade: Cube Visualization

I’m working on my OpenStack summit talk about DevOps upgrade patterns and got to a point where there are three major vectors to consider:

  1. Step Size (shown as X axis): do we make upgrades in small frequent steps or queue up changes into larger bundles? Larger steps mean that there are more changes to be accommodated simultaneously.
  2. Change Leader (shown as Y axis): do we upgrade the server or the client first? Regardless of the choice, the followers should be able to handle multiple protocol versions if we are going to have any hope of a reasonable upgrade.
  3. Safeness (shown as Z axis): do the changes preserve the data and productivity of the entity being upgraded? It is simpler to assume to we simply add new components and remove old components; this approach carries significant risks or redundancy requirements.

I’m strongly biased towards continuous deployment because I think it reduces risk and increases agility; however, I laying out all the vertices of the upgrade cube help to visualize where the costs and risks are being added into the traditional upgrade models.

Breaking down each vertex:

  1. Continuous Deploy – core infrastructure is updated on a regular (usually daily or faster) basis
  2. Protocol Driven – like changing to HTML5, the clients are tolerant to multiple protocols and changes take a long time to roll out
  3. Staged Upgrade – tightly coordinate migration between major versions over a short period of time in which all of the components in the system step from one version to the next together.
  4. Rolling Upgrade – system operates a small band of versions simultaneously where the components with the oldest versions are in process of being removed and their capacity replaced with new nodes using the latest versions.
  5. Parallel Operation – two server systems operate and clients choose when to migrate to the latest version.
  6. Protocol Stepping – rollout of clients that support multiple versions and then upgrade the server infrastructure only after all clients have achieved can support both versions.
  7. Forced Client Migration – change the server infrastructure and then force the clients to upgrade before they can reconnect.
  8. Big Bang – you have to shut down all components of the system to upgrade it

This type of visualization helps me identify costs and options. It’s not likely to get much time in the final presentation so I’m hoping to hear in advance if it resonates with others.

PS: like this visualization? check out my “magic 8 cube” for cloud hosting options.

My Dilemma with Folsom – why I want to jump to G

When your ship sailsThese views are my own.  Based on 1×1 discussions I’ve had in the OpenStack community, I am not alone.

If you’ve read my blog then you know I am a vocal and active supporter of OpenStack who is seeking re-election to the OpenStack Board.  I’m personally and professionally committed to the project’s success. And, I’m confident that OpenStack’s collaborative community approach is out innovating other clouds.

A vibrant project requires that we reflect honestly: we have an equal measure of challenges: shadow free fall Dev, API vs implementation, forking risk and others.  As someone helping users deploy OpenStack today, I find my self straddling between a solid release (Essex) and a innovative one (Grizzly). Frankly, I’m finding it very difficult to focus on Folsom.

Grizzly excites me and clearly I’m not alone.  Based on pace of development, I believe we saw a significant developer migration during feature freeze free fall.

In Grizzly, both Cinder and Quantum will have progressed to a point where they are ready for mainstream consumption. That means that OpenStack will have achieved the cloud API trifecta of compute-store-network.

  • Cinder will get beyond the “replace Nova Volume” feature set and expands the list of connectors.
  • Quantum will get to parity with Nova Network, addresses overlapping VM IPs and goes beyond L2 with L3 feature enablement like  load balancing aaS.
  • We are having a real dialog about upgrades while the code is still in progress
  • And new projects like Celio and Heat are poised to address real use problems in billing and application formation.

Everything I hear about Folsom deployment is positive with stable code and significant improvements; however, we’re too late to really influence operability at the code level because the Folsom release is done.  This is not a new dilemma.  As operators, we seem to be forever chasing the tail of the release.

The perpetual cycle of implementing deployment after release is futile, exhausting and demoralizing because we finish just in time for the spotlight to shift to the next release.

I don’t want to slow the pace of releases.  In Agile/Lean, we believe that if something is hard then we do should it more.  Instead, I am looking at Grizzly and seeing an opportunity to break the cycle.  I am looking at Folsom and thinking that most people will be OK with Essex for a little longer.

Maybe I’m a dreamer, but if we can close the deployment time gap then we accelerate adoption, innovation and happy hour.  If that means jilting Folsom at the release altar to elope with Grizzly then I can live with that.

Impressions from OpenStack Foundation board meeting 10/15

20121018-115319.jpgI spent the first day of the OpenStack summit doing my service as a Foundation board member. While you need to wait for a summary by Jonathan Bryce, the Foundation Executive Director, and/or the official minutes to get the details of our actions, I think that it’s reasonable to share my impressions.

In some ways, the chemistry of the board is as important as our actions at this point. We are still working thorough start up issues and, more importantly, learning how to work together. The board is not only big, 24 members, it is also has many companies that often compete (power of we).

Here are my top 5 impressions:

    1. Transparency. The bylaws are crafted to ensure a openness and our meetings are broadcast to the maximum extent possible. Even with that background, there is a consistent self-check and discussion about increasing transparency so that the community is included.
    2. Humor. It’s a great sign of progress that we are laughing together because it shows that we trust and respect each other.
    3. Frustration. Recognition that we have important decisions to make and a degree of impatience to make them. Boards are subtle: we spend a lot of time setting up the right structures that allow us to make hard decisions quickly. Also, grumbling that we’d overlapped the board meeting and the summit.
    4. Consensus. This something I committed to help build. I feel that our actions reflect both healthy discussion as individuals and desire to work together as a board.
    5. Leadership. Looking back from our first meeting, it is clear that Jonathan and Alan have fully assumed their roles. I’m also seeing how the Foundation team (Mark, Lauren, Stephano) are smoothly supporting operations even though we’re really just weeks from the Foundation launch.

I hope that gives you some insights into the board meeting and that more of you can join the broadcast for the next ones (2012 schedule TBD) including a joint tech and foundation meeting

Wednesday morning at the summit was “breakfast with the board.” Look for some notes from that too soon.

Open Source is The Power of We (Blog Action Day)

This post is part of a world wide “blog action day” where thousands of bloggers post their unique insights about a single theme. For 2012, it’s the “power of we is as a celebration of people working together to make a positive difference in the world, either for their own communities or for people they will never meet half way around the world.”

I’ve choosing open source software because I think that we are establishing models for building ideas collaboratively that can be extended beyond technology into broader use. The way we solve open source challenges translates broadly because we are the tool makers of the global interaction.

I started using open source¹ as a way to solve a problem; I did not understand community or how groups of loosely connected people came together to create something new. Frankly, the whole process of creating free software seemed to be some hybrid combination of ninja coders and hippy hackers. That changed when I got involve on the ground floor of the OpenStack project (of which I am now a Foundation board member).

I was not, could not have been, prepared for the power and reality of community and collaboration that fuels OpenStack and other projects. We have the same problems as any non-profit project except that we are technologists: we can make new tools to solve our teaming and process problems.

It is not just that open source projects solve problems that help people. The idea of OpenStack and Hadoop being used by medical researches to find cures for cancer is important; however, the learning how to build collaboratively is another critical dimension. Our world is getting more connected and interconnected by technology, but the actual tools for social media are only in their earliest stages.

Not only are the tools evolving, the people using the tools are changing too! We are training each other to work together in ways that were beyond our imagine even 10 years ago. It’s the combination of both new technology and new skills that is resetting the rules for collaboration.

Just a few years ago, open source technology was considered low quality, risky and fringe. Today, open source projects like OpenStack and Hadoop are seen as more innovative and equally secure and supportable compared to licensed products. This transformation represents a surprising alignment and collaboration between individuals and entities that would normally be competing. While the motivation for this behavior comes from many sources, we all share the desire to do collaborative effectively.

I don’t think that we have figured out how to really do this the best way yet. We are making progress and getting better and better. We are building tools (like etherpad, wikis, irc, twitter, github, jenkins, etc) that improve collaboration. We are also learning building a culture of collaboration.

Right now, I’m on a train bound for the semi-annual OpenStack summit that brings a world wide audience together for 4½ days of community work. The discussions will require a new degree of openness from people and companies that are normally competitive and secretive about product development. During the summit, we’ll be doing more than designing OpenStack, we will be learning the new skills of working together. Perhaps those are the most important deliverables.

Open source projects combination of both new technologies and new skills creates the Power of We.

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PS¹: Open source software is a growing class of applications in which the authors publish the instructions for running the software publicly so that other people can use the software. Sometimes (but not always) this includes a usage license that allows other people to run the software without paying the author royalties. In many cases, the author’s motivation is that other users will help them test, modify and improve the software so that improves more quickly than a single creator could do alone.

Crowbar releases for OpenStack Essex and Folsom

On the eve of the OpenStack design summit, it’s worth noting that the Crowbar team at Dell cut our final Essex release (aka Betty) last week. We’ve also committed the initial Folsom deployment scripts to the 1x development trunk under “feature/folsom” if you are doing Crowbar builds from DevTool (see bit.ly/crowbardevtool).

If you don’t want to build it, I’ve cut ISOs from the open source bits and posted them to http://crowbar.zehicle.com.

Andi Abes is presenting about the new Pull From Source (pfs) feature at the Summit on Monday. There’s a feature branch for that too and I’m going to check with him and try to post and ISO for that too.

20121014-132246.jpg

OpenStack Summit: Let’s talk DevOps, Fog, Upgrades, Crowbar & Dell

If you are coming to the OpenStack summit in San Diego next week then please find me at the show! I want to hear from you about the Foundation, community, OpenStack deployments, Crowbar and anything else.  Oh, and I just ordered a handful of Crowbar stickers if you wanted some CB bling.

Matt Ray (Opscode), Jason Cannavale (Rackspace) and I were Ops track co-chairs. If you have suggestions, we want to hear. We managed to get great speakers and also some interesting sessions like DevOps panel and up streaming deploy working sessions. It’s only on Monday and Tuesday, so don’t snooze or you’ll miss it.

My team from Dell has a lot going on, so there are lots of chances to connect with us:

At the Dell booth, Randy Perryman will be sharing field experience about hardware choices. We’ve got a lot of OpenStack battle experience and we want to compare notes with you.

I’m on the board meeting on Monday so likely occupied until the Mirantis party.

See you in San Diego!

PS: My team is hiring for Dev, QA and Marketing. Let me know if you want details.

Join in Blog Action Day on 10/15

You’ll have to wait for the reveal on 10/15 but I wanted to throw out the link for blog action day and encourage fellow bloggers to participate in the event.

I participated in this event while I blogging about electric cars (I converted 96 RAV4 to EV) and energy issues.  It’s an interesting perspective to have a large focus on a single topic.  The breadth of discussion is impressive.

This year, I’m going to be topical to my latest interests and offering insights from the floor of the OpenStack summit.