OpenStack started out as an open source project by RackSpace and NASA in 2010. It was designed to enable any organization to run cloud services on standard hardware. IT industry companies like AMD, Intel, Red Hat, Cisco, Dell, HP, IBM, VMware, Yahoo and a bunch of others have joined the project. OpenStack is a suite of interrelated software packages that control processing, storage and networking resources throughout a datacenter. Administrators can manage these resources through a web accessible dashboard, and users can provision resources themselves. All of the code for OpenStack is freely available under the Apache 2.0 license. Anyone can run it, build on it, or submit changes back to the project.
OpenStack's features and modular architecture
You use only the modules that are relevant to your infrastructure and needs. Here's a list of modules:
- Compute ("Nova"): the basis of the system: manages and automates pools of resouces, works with different hypervisors as well as bare metal configurations
- Object Storage ("Swift"): scalable redundant storage. Objects and files are written to multiple servers spread across the data center with automatic replication and integrity checking. It is software based, so off-the-shelf commodity hard drives can be used.
- Image Service ("Glance"): management and delivery service for disk and server images
- Identity ("Keystone"): a central user directory mapped to the OpenStack services they can access, integrable with existing back-end directory services like LDAP.
- Dashboard ("Horizon"): the graphical user interface with which administrators can access, provision and automate resources. Its extensible design allows third party products and services to plug in, such as billing, metering and back office.
- Networking ("Quantum", for now... soon to be renamed to something more applicable): pluggable, scalable, API-driven network, VLAN and IP management
- Block Storage ("Cinder"): manage block devices for servers, with snapshot management.
What are the benefits?
OpenStack is for enterprises, government agencies and academic institutions that want to build public or private clouds. Any organisation that needs cloud services to be run on existing or standard hardware, without being dependent on a specific service provider. It's based on open standards. As an end user, OpenStack provides easy migration, cloud-bursting, better security audits, and a large ecosystem of compatible tools and services that work across cloud providers.
OpenStack is hypervisor agnostic, meaning it supports most current hypervisors: Xen, KVM, Qemu, LXC, ESXi, Hyper-V and bare metal. Here's a matrix of all supported hypervisors.
For many customers, fear of vendor lock-in prevents them from considering cloud options. OpenStack is truly open source. You can dive into the code and make adjustments as much as you want... or you can let us do it. We have years of experience with infrastructure. We can help you set up a Proof of Concept. Contact us for more information, we're happy to help.