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March 20, 2017

What is OpenStack?

From being dubbed a science project to becoming one of the most popular open source projects to date.

By James Nunns

OpenStack is an open source software platform and set of tools for cloud computing that is mainly deployed as Infrastructure as a Service.

It can be deployed as both public and private cloud and is backed by some of the biggest tech companies in the world.

Since its inception in 2010, OpenStack has become a leading cloud option thanks to a broad ecosystem of vendors.

OpenStack is basically an open source software platform designed for cloud computing. It is mostly deployed as Infrastructure-as-a-Service.

Various sets of tools, which can be chosen by the user, make up the software platform which enables the building and management of the cloud for either public or private deployments.

The technology is backed by a number of the largest companies in both software development and hosting. Some of the companies involved include, HPE, IBM, Red Hat, Rackspace, VMware, Dell, Mirantis, and many more.

One of the main goals of the technology is to support interoperability between cloud services.

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OpenStack allows users to deploy virtual machines and other instances which serve the purpose of managing different tasks in a cloud environment.

The architecture of the software is modular and offers numerous components, these include the likes of Nova for providing virtual machines upon demand; Swift is a scalable storage system that supports object storage; Sahara is a data processing service for OpenStack managed resources; and Neutron provides network connectivity-as-a-service between interface devices.

Why use OpenStack?

OpenStack started as a joint project between Rackspace and NASA and is now managed by the OpenStack Foundation, a non-profit entity that was established in September 2012.

Rackspace donated the code that powers its storage and content delivery service and production servers, while NASA contributed the technology that powers Nebula, which is an open source cloud computing program that provides on-demand computing power.

Benefits of OpenStack include its ability to easily scale across multiple nodes, its ability to include different hypervisors, no vendor lock-in, and it can be used over an existing
virtualised environment.

Since its creation OpenStack has come in for criticism for its complexity, particularly related to installation. Adding to this problem has been a lack of skills available when it comes to installing and managing the system.

The OpenStack community has placed a large focus on overcoming these issues with the creation of training and certification programs and work to simplify any complexity.

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