How OpenStack Stacks Up

The goal of OpenStack is to allow any organization to create and offer cloud computing capabilities using open source software running on standard hardware. OpenStack Compute is software for automatically creating and managing large groups of virtual private servers. OpenStack Storage is software for creating redundant, scalable object storage using clusters of commodity servers to store terabytes or even petabytes of data.

Translation: Though OpenStack just launched, it aims to be an open version of AWS, a competition to Eucalyptus, and interoperable between Xen and KVM. Microsoft and VMWare are clearly the targets, and since it is open source, OpenStack can be the most exciting and promising cloud computing platform yet!

From Planet OpenStack:

The Rackspace’s IaaS offering consists of two parts: Cloud Servers and Cloud Files. Incidentally, OpenStack (so far, at least) has two main components to it: A “compute” compenent called “Nova” and a “storage” component called “Swift”. Swift is the software that runs Rackspace’s Cloud Files today. Nova was initially developed by NASA and is not currently in use at Rackspace, but will eventually replace the existing Cloud Servers platform.

Last week, we held a design summit in Austin, TX, USA, with a bunch of people from companies all around the world who all showed up to see what we were up to and to help out by giving requirements, designing the architecture or write patches. The amount of interest was astounding!

I’m sure others will be blogging at length about all that stuff, so I’d like to touch upon some of the ways in which Nova differs from the alternatives out there. I’ll leave it to someone else to talk about Swift.

  • Nova is written in Python and uses Twisted.
  • Nova is completely open source. There’s no secret sauce. We won’t ever limit functionality or performance so that we can sell you an enterprise edition. It’s all released under the Apache license, so it’s conceivable that some company might write proprietary, for-pay extensions, but it won’t be coming from us. Ever. This is true for Swift as well, by the way.
  • Nova currently uses Redis for its key-value store.
  • Nova can use either LDAP or its key-value store for its user database.
  • Nova currently uses AMQP for messaging, which is the only mechanism with which the different components of Nova communicate.
  • The physical hosts that will run the virtual machines all have a component of Nova running on them. It takes care of setting up disk space and other parts of the virtual machine preparation.
  • It supports the EC2 query API.
  • The Rackspace API is in the works. I expect this will be the basis for the “canonical” API of Nova in the future, but any number of API’s could be supported.
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