OpenStack Icehouse: The cloud just got that much cooler

origin_6997620763OpenStack officially released the latest distribution of its cloud computing framework, dubbed Icehouse, focusing mainly on consolidation and stability. However, it’s added a few cool new features into the mix, including a new database service, support for Hadoop deployments on OpenStack clouds, and improved support for containers.

Icehouse was released on Thursday, and it finally delivers some new upgrading features that allow admins to shift OpenStack’s “Nova” compute component to the latest version without having to wipe their entire install first. OpenStack notes that “Limited live upgrades are now supported”, in its release notes, which means that developers can upgrade their controller infrastructure first before doing the same for individual compute nodes. All of this can now be accomplished without any downtime of the entire cloud.

This is the ninth version of OpenStack’s data center management software, the first iteration of which we saw in 2010, when Rackspace and NASA open-sourced their IT software.

Major tech firms such as Red Hat and HP quickly jumped onto the OpenStack bandwagon, and it has since become a focus of close-knit collaboration within the tech world. This extends even to Oracle, which has thrown heaps of money into the OpenStack foundation, though it’s yet to contribute any code. That’s not to say OpenStack hasn’t had its share of teething problems though – the project hasn’t yet fully matured, in part due to its expansive nature and its youth.

OpenStack says there’s more than 350 new features in Icehouse, as well as 2,902 bug fixes. In addition, there are now more than 1,200 individual contributors to the project, a 32 percent increase from “Havana”, its last release.

One of the biggest updates in Icehouse is the closer integration between OpenStack’s Neutron networking module and its Nova compute to allow for better provisioning. Support for OpenDaylight, One Convergence, Nuage and IBM SDN-VE has also been added via drivers and plugins. There’s also some significant upgrades to storage as well. The Swift object store has been given discoverability features which allow administrators to query more data with an API call, while greater capabilities for migrating data within tiered storage installs have been added to the Cinder block store. Other upgrades are focused on orchestration telemetry and user dashboards.

Also updated is the Keystone identity service, making it simpler to use a single credential across hybrid OpenStack environments, together with the addition of self-service capabilities. Due to the expansive nature of OpenStack, readers are advised to check the release notes for the full low-down on what’s new.

But what does all of this amount too? If anything, Icehouse simply underlines the growing maturity of the OpenStack platform. According to Forrester Research analyst Lauren E. Nelson, “OpenStack has crossed the threshold and will become another de facto IaaS standard before the end of the year , when OpenStack compatibility will be a must, not a nice-to-have.”

And she’s dead right, too. With Icehouse, it’s fair to say that Red Hat’s bet that there’s going to be big money made in OpenStack environments within the next 12-18 months is a safe one.

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