OpenStack Foundation opens the doors on community sharing tool

From scripts to images and templates, OpenStack's Community App Catalog is designed to enable users to upload and share their work for the benefit of others on the open-source cloud platform.

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Chief operating officer Mark Collier: We wanted a place for people to share. Image: OpenStack Foundation

To help firms pool tools, images and templates, the OpenStack Foundation has today unveiled a community application catalog that is designed to facilitate collaboration and sharing.

The new initiative should make it easier for users to tap into the work that others have already undertaken in making their open-source clouds run more efficiently.

"If you have a great script for deploying a web server, a load balancer - all the things that just about every company needs - we haven't really had a place to share that," OpenStack Foundation chief operating officer Mark Collier said.

"We've had this culture of, 'We share the code around OpenStack. It's always freely available. Anyone can contribute to it'. But as we've got these higher level constructs we wanted to have a place for people to share those recipes."

Collier said the Community App Catalog is another initiative aimed at helping people get to work with their clouds more quickly.

"We have lots of users who are writing apps or who are writing templates to deploy different tools. They may write in the OpenStack template languages like Heat, or they use [OpenStack image service] Glance images or the third category is [OpenStack app catalog] Murano packages, which really describe all the dependencies you need to get your application deployed," he said.

"The Community App Catalog allows people to upload and share Glance images, which are really machine images like an AMI [Amazon machine image], the most basic building block, the Heat templates for higher level orchestration, and then these new Murano packages."

Unveiled at this week's OpenStack Summit in Vancouver, the Community App Catalog will contain examples of all three types for uploading, which are expected to be added to over the next weeks and months.

"This was a natural thing for the OpenStack Foundation to drive because, unlike an Amazon model where there's one company that operates the one cloud, we have this network of clouds all over the world from different companies," Collier said.

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"So we thought it made sense to have this independent, non-profit managed catalog that's really vendor-independent and can really target any OpenStack cloud with these different pieces. That's the benefit of having so many different companies involved. "

OpenStack Foundation executive director Jonathan Bryce said technologies already available in the Community App Catalog include contributions from Cloud Foundry and CoreOS, together with Docker and Kubernetes images.

"Usually we announce these things and put them out there in the open and work to build them. As we've been working on this, we've seen a ton of interest from all kinds of companies that want to get their products and services, like Oracle Database, in here but also from users who want to use this to share what they've learned with each other and to share their templates and images out to the community."

"This is a tool that makes available those Glance images, Heat templates, and Murano application packages from an OpenStack Foundation managed system, which you can pull into your OpenStack cloud to deploy applications, to deploy services, in a pretty easy way."

OpenStack is an open-source project started in 2010 by Rackspace and NASA to create components for building public and private clouds on standard hardware.

It is now backed by more than 200 vendors, including Cisco, Dell, HP, IBM, Intel, Oracle, Red Hat, and VMware, with a large developer community working on a range of loosely-coupled projects. Mirantis is one of OpenStack's founding members.

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