Liberty Is First OpenStack Release Under ‘Big Tent’ Model

CloudCloud Management

The Liberty release, the second major OpenStack update this year, includes a wealth of new projects and features, while core technologies continue to evolve

The OpenStack Liberty release, set to become generally available on Oct. 15, will provide users of the open-source cloud platform with new projects and features. The second major OpenStack update in 2015, the Liberty release follows Kilo, which debuted on April 30.

OpenStack Liberty is noteworthy for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that it is the first release under the “Big Tent” model, which takes a more inclusive approach for projects. As such, with OpenStack Liberty, there are more new projects as part of the coordinated release than ever before, including SearchLight search, Zaqar messaging, Barbican key manager, Manila shared file system and Designate DNS services among others.

“OpenStack is a platform for integrating a wide variety of technologies,” Jonathan Bryce, executive director of the OpenStack Foundation, told eWEEK. “With the Big Tent shift, it has allowed people within the OpenStack community to select different focus areas, so we’re seeing a lot of innovation.”


The SearchLight search project in OpenStack Liberty is a new effort that has come up in the last year, Bryce said. SearchLight uses the open-source ElasticSearch technology to enable users to query across an OpenStack deployment. Bryce noted that OpenStack has been using ElasticSearch as part of its development process for several years to search though development logs and test results. He added that members of the OpenStack community thought about how to evolve the limited use of ElasticSearch within OpenStack development into a full OpenStack cloud service, which is now what SearchLight represents.

openstackAs an integration platform, OpenStack as a platform always seeks to enable multiple technology options within any given service, and SearchLight is likely not going to be an exception. Currently, SearchLight relies on ElasticSearch, but there is a plug-in system that is part of the overall architecture, Bryce said.

“So while ElasticSearch is currently the default and the reference implementation, the design of SearchLight is built to enable other search systems and back-ends,” Bryce said.

In contrast to SearchLight, which is new to the OpenStack community, development on the Zaqar messaging service has been ongoing for several years. The Zaqar project was originally known as Marconi, and was renamed in 2014. Zaqar is a multi-tenant cloud messaging service, somewhat akin to what Amazon’s Simple Queue Service (SQS) delivers.

“Zaqar is a project that is meant to be a plug-in-driven system,” Bryce explained. “Really, it’s about providing multi-tenant messaging via a REST API.”

Nova Compute

While the Big Tent model provides a platform for many different projects to be included with OpenStack, the core projects are also getting attention in the Liberty release. The Nova compute project adds multiple features to OpenStack’s core server virtualization effort. For Bryce, the biggest new feature is Cells version 2. Cells first landed in the OpenStack Grizzly release back in April 2013 as a technology to enable multiple Nova Compute modules to be managed by a single Nova API.

“Cells came out of Rackspace as a technology to help scale across data centers and geographic regions,” Bryce said. “The first version took a long time to get upstream as it was very specific to the Rackspace environment.”

openstackWith Cells version 2, the model is significantly more generic, enabling broader use and deployment options.

“An organization may want to have some separation in its OpenStack deployment due to geography but still want to have an aggregation layer to see all resources,” Bryce said. “Telcos and cable companies run a lot of small clouds, and they don’t necessarily have a single massive environment.”

For the last three years, OpenStack developers have been working on the issue of federated identity in the cloud. At the core of those efforts is the OpenStack Keystone identity project, which got a major boost in the Kilo release cycle to enable what OpenStack executives refer to as the OpenStack Powered Planet.

“Kilo was the first release where it was possible to have an OpenStack cloud serve as a federation authority,” Bryce said. “In Liberty, that has been updated with new options in Keystone for different back-ends and improved federation protocols.”

The Neutron networking project within OpenStack Liberty benefits from multiple innovations, including a new component called Courier, which is focused on container networking.

Mark Collier, chief operating officer of the OpenStack Foundation, said he is impressed with the high volume of activity in Neutron during the Liberty development cycle. “For the first time ever, Neutron is the most active project in terms of commits, while Nova had always been the most active before,” Collier said.

Originally published on eWeek.

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