Maximizing the value of your OpenStack investment requires new skill sets to ensure smooth deployment and integration of third-party hardware and software.
Cloud and virtualization have had a profound influence on computing and networking that one could not have possibly imagined just a few short years ago. Instead of spending hours installing an operating system and applications, today it is possible to launch virtual machines in minutes and containers in seconds.
For cloud—specifically, private cloud—OpenStack is the best solution available in the market today mainly because it is open source and modular. OpenStack is built with great ability to manage networking, storage and compute hardware with support for provisioning virtual machines, bare metal and containers. However, one drawback of OpenStack is its complexity, which exists even in the enterprise versions. Below, we examine some of OpenStack’s challenges and ways to mitigate them.
Who is adopting OpenStack?
OpenStack is being adopted by telecommunications service providers, finance companies, enterprises, government agencies, healthcare and academic institutions that build public or private clouds to reduce costs and avoid getting locked into a single-vendor relationship.
What are the challenges?
Building a standalone OpenStack installation is not all that complex, but the challenges start to unfold when integrating third-party software, hardware and performance optimization techniques such as SR-IOV, DPDK and more. In a typical telco cloud environment, OpenStack is likely to be integrated with a specific software-defined network (SDN), eg. OpenDaylight or another popular SDN solution that have all the bells and whistles to isolate the network traffic and scale on demand, datacentre that are geographically distributed, a centralized orchestration mechanism and so on.
There are five typical challenges of OpenStack:
- Integration & Deployment complexities
- A lack of out-of-the-box robustness that enterprises desire for their datacenters
- Shortage of OpenStack skills
- Troubleshooting OpenStack subsystems to isolate and fix issues
- Upgrading of OpenStack
How do you address the challenges?
Half the battle is won by staff having the right skill sets. Before virtualization, enterprises had distinct roles such as network engineer, storage engineer, database administrator, programmer, system administrator, and so on. Today, these independent roles are vanishing, being replaced by multidisciplinary staff who can perform multiple roles. This trend will continue in the future.
OpenStack design and deployment can be handled well by engineers who:
- Understand internals of OpenStack neutron networking and how other core OpenStack services such as keystone, message queue, database function together
- Are proficient in advanced Linux administration and OS networking that includes iptables, routing, NAT rules, OVS/Linux Bridge (br-int/br-ex/br-tun), veth pair, TAP devices, namespaces, network bonding etc.
- Knows to query MySQL database and Galera clustering
- Understand high availability and load balancing using Pacemaker and HAProxy
- Know good shell scripting, YAML, Python programming, Puppet and Ansible
- Have expertise in the specific third-party software being considered
- Understands containers such as Docker and container networking
Achieving the right mix of skills is always a trade-off between time, money and quality. But with reliable resources onboard and support from software and hardware vendors, a quality OpenStack deployment will follow.
What are Aricent’s capabilities in OpenStack?
Aricent has been involved in OpenStack since Grizzly release providing solutions to a variety of customers. For example, Aricent developed a neutron plugin for the OpenStack Grizzly release for an enterprise distributor that provides hosted cloud. We developed an OpenStack migration tool for a US tier-1 enterprise OpenStack distributor. Also, Aricent provides L3 technical support to a telco service provider to troubleshoot OpenStack issues and fix the company’s custom OpenStack code. And Aricent recently made a strategic investment in an internal Innovation Group that includes a talented team of engineers who are developing OpenStack container and Kubernetes solutions and contributing to the open-source community.