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Openstack – A quick introduction and overview


For managing its dynamic infrastructure and all the services, an enterprise needs to operate in the cloud environment, which may be challenging. However, this has become a necessity these days. So, the organizations which are transitioning to cloud computing environments or are planning to do so in near future, are required to seamlessly integrate several cloud services like storage computing and network.

But this seamless integration may increase the complexity in management. At the same time, cloud integration demands strong SLAs (Service Level Agreements), an infrastructure established on the proven results and high availability.

In such scenario, one can use OpenStack, which unlike proprietary offerings, is an open source cloud computing based scalable and open operating system that combines the power of three main cloud requisites – Computing, Network Resources and Storage. It helps the organizations to derive the benefits of a cloud computing environment while creating a foundation for ongoing flexibility and organizational blog.

What is it?

OpenStack is a cloud computing project which is the result of combined efforts of RackSpace and NASA. It was developed in 2010 when Rackspace came up with the software code which enables content delivery, storage and production servers while NASA contributed by providing the technology to allow high performance in networking, computing and data storage clouds.
Components of OpenStack


OpenStack compute enables services providers and enterprises to provide on-demand computing resources, by creating scalable & redundant cloud computing platform, and by managing and provisioning large networks composed by virtual machines. The computing resources enabled by OpenStack can be accessed through APIs by developers indulged in building cloud applications and through web interfaces by users and administrators.

The compute component of Openstack basically:

  • Offers an IAAS (Infrastructure as a Service) for creating customized services and policies
  • Facilitates management of larger data with the help of tools like Hadoop
  • Can accommodate to the demand of web applications or resources
  • Can process intensive and diverse workloads


The networking component of OpenStack provides a swift adapting system with API (Application Programming Interface) for the flexible and easier management of a wide range of IP Addresses and large networks.


The storage component of OpenStack is further subdivided into two sub-components:

  • Open Storage – It is used for scale out-storage, that is, it can adjust storage as per the changing needs of data at significantly lower costs.
  • Block Storage – This component allows block devices to be connected and exposed for extra storage. With the help of this component, users can manage their storage needs with several other storage programs. Thus, it is quite efficient for use with large file systems, databases, or for providing access pertaining to storage to the servers.

Key features of OpenStack

  • It enables the enterprises to deploy resilient, flexible and extensible cloud infrastructures while maximizing business agility.
  • It leverages an open source architecture which promotes investment protection and flexibility while avoiding the proprietary vendor lock-in.
  • It offers scalable solutions for the growing needs of the enterprises deploying private clouds.
  • It delivers an extensible and robust foundation for achieving the benefits of cloud computing.
  • It allows enterprises to easily control, manipulate and manage their network resources while seamlessly integrating different cloud services like storage, compute and network.
  • It possesses an asynchronous and distributed architecture and API with authentication

Advantages of OpenStack

  • Enhanced automation and utilization of resources for much greater cost efficiencies
  • Flexible networking models to suit the requisites of each user group and application
  • Highly available and massively scalable operating system
  • Live VM management to enhance productivity with lifecycle management
  • Ability to assigns and reassign network based IP addresses to Virtual Machines
  • Flexibility in assigning and controlling access to Virtual Machine instances by creating segregation between resource pools.
  • Ability to track, allocate and limit resource utilization
  • Possesses VNC Proxy enabled through web browser that results in easy and quick CLI administration
  • Has least privileged access design that separates root access for services and management
  • Allows faster provisioning of Virtual Machines through VM Image caching feature on compute nodes

Disadvantages of OpenStack

  • Servers are not reliable always and thus resulting issues may dissatisfy customers
  • Technical support is only offered through Chat and Email, live support through phone is not there
  • Uploading is time consuming process
  • Software is still under continuous development and thus keeps on changing constantly. Thus users are required stay up to date with the changes
  •  Incompatible with multi-currency or multi-languages
  • Does not possesses monitoring or billing systems
  • Lack of development as compared to other similar software available in market

Some popular Use Cases

  • High performance computing environments processing intensive and diverse workloads
  • Scaling compute up and down for meeting the demand for applications and web resources
  • IT Departments working as cloud service providers for project teams and business units
  • Cloud Service Providers offering IAAS based cloud services or platform higher up the stack.

Current Scenario of OpenStack

Although OpenStack offers many advantages through a wide range of efficient features but it is still developing. Many companies around are world are deploying it, however, investing in an underdeveloped cloud operating system could be a risk. once it evolves completely with all the major developments being done, it would be a highly efficient system to take care of any organization’s computing, storage and network requisites.

Kirk Kim, the director of Samsung SDS shared that although OpenStack is highly flexible but at the same time it is error prone and complex too.

A New-York based media enterprise – Bloomberg deployed OpenStack on one of the largest private networks in the world, but according to Pravir Chandra CTO & Security Architect of the company, it encountered many problems above and below the stack. The problems above the stack include metrics and log aggregation for hardware monitoring, for which the Graphite open source utility was put to use by the company.

The post Openstack – A quick introduction and overview appeared first on Cloud Computing Best Practices.

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