What to expect from the OpenStack Folsom Release

We are nearing the most complete and feature-rich OpenStack release to date, so given that we’ve all be running stable Diablo and Essex releases, what’s in Folsom that will get people reaching for their favorite package manager?

The OpenStack Folsom release is the community’s sixth release. With each release, the community gets larger and more exciting as more companies come on board and more developers commit their code; with each release comes greater stability and new features that allow us greater flexibility when deploying our cloud environments.

It’s hard to talk about OpenStack Folsom without mentioning two notable new projects: Quantum and Cinder. Quantum provides a feature-rich and extensible API for programmatically defining networks. This allows for far richer network topologies to be defined than currently available such as configuring multi-tier applications and the subnets they’re allocated. It also allows for more advanced configurations at the backend by utilizing plugins, such as utilizing the excellent Open vSwitch software or implementing QoS and security functions. Quantum gives users of OpenStack the ability to completely control all aspects of their cloud compute environment, without compromising the underlying infrastructure and security of the underlying OpenStack environment; Quantum brings true multi-tenancy without any restrictions of VLANs.

Cinder is the OpenStack Block Storage project that was formerly known as nova-volume. This re-birth into its own project allows this crucial piece of core functionality to be developed independently of Nova (Compute) itself. To a user, this means faster development, quicker bug fixes and newer features to meet the demands of today’s hosting requirements.

Other notable features included in Folsom are Microsoft’s hypervisor, Hyper-V, making a comeback after it was removed due to the code being unmaintained for the Essex release and the highly available OpenStack Storage, Swift, being ramped up to 1.7.2. For those upgrading Swift, read the advice here https://lists.launchpad.net/openstack/msg16188.html as this comes with a speed improvement to the rings that is backwards compatible – but downgrading at a later date using the new rings won’t be possible.

Put all the elements of Folsom together and you have a cloud software suite that allows you to easily scale out your secure compute environment and place highly available object storage within your datacenter. With a feature rich API fronting all aspects of an OpenStack controlled datacenter, management of this environment brings cost savings through efficiency and automation. Everything becomes code.

So how do you get the magical OpenStack Folsom installed onto the pristine that adorns your network? Over the last couple of months, there have been great strides in this area with the release of Rackspace’s Private Cloud Edition and Piston’s Airframe, both allowing swift installation of OpenStack without the overhead of some of the complexities previously experienced with an installation. Expect Folsom versions of easy to install methods soon. For those installing on Red Hat based and Ubuntu distros are left to stitch some of the required magic together, with some nuances to be mindful of when moving from a previous release – such as keystone and glance command line syntax changes. In fact, moving from a previous release isn’t as straight-forward as an apt-get upgrade, although with the Canonical starting to fulfil their promise of supporting future OpenStack releases on the latest LTS release via their Cloud Archive – this is quickly becoming a reality. Behind the scenes moving from one version to the next makes this process complex, so for those looking at moving from Diablo or Essex are best looking at migrating workloads to your new environment rather than expecting an hands-free upgrade at this stage. This “want” will become mandatory as OpenStack matures further to remove people from the endless conversations and confusions for those entering OpenStack and the sticking point being the version to accept as stable.

Essex laid the foundations for OpenStack production clouds, Folsom builds on this success and comes brandishing new weapons. With performance enhancements in Compute and Storage, Nova Volumes moving to its own Cinder project and Quantum added to its arsenal – OpenStack just made the choice easier when deciding on what cloud software you should deploy in your datacenter.

For more information on the Folsom release, take a look at Emilien Macchi’s deeper dive summary here: http://my1.fr/blog/whats-new-in-openstack-folsom/