OpenStack woos enterprises with Essex

The fifth release of the open-source cloud infrastructure software comes with a range of stability improvements including the first full release of the identity manager and self-service portal
Written by Jack Clark, Contributor

Version five of the OpenStack open-source cloud platform was released on Thursday, amid differences among the major technology companies that back it.

Code-named 'Essex', the new version contains over 150 new features and improvements, but comes at a time when Citrix, a code contributor, has signalled a move away from the project to its competing CloudStack technology.

"I think OpenStack came from a service provider background and that was its legacy and it's been deployed quite a bit in that regard, but in Essex we've added a lot for enterprises that want to build private clouds and take advantage of the technology," Jonathan Bryce, a member of the OpenStack Project Policy Board, told ZDNet UK. "In terms of services and support, a lot of people have those wrapped around VMware, but we have our own ecosystem developing to support OpenStack."

Essex contains the first full releases of the 'Horizon' self-service portal and the 'Keystone' identity authentication system components, along with stability and usability improvements to the Swift object storage, Nova compute and Glance image services. Over 200 developers from 55 companies contributed code to the Essex release. NetApp has contributed code to make the compute portion of the service work well with its storage infrastructure.

The Essex release shows tremendous evolution and improvement of the most critical components of OpenStack.
– Josh McKenty, Piston Cloud Computing

"The Essex release shows tremendous evolution and improvement of the most critical components of OpenStack," Josh McKenty, chief executive of commercial OpenStack distributor Piston Cloud Computing, wrote in a statement. "Most notably, the Keystone authentication and authorisation service, which was extensively revamped to enable easier and more collaborative development."

OpenStack is for companies that want to run an Amazon Web Services-style infrastructure-as-a-service cloud within their datacentre and have the technical expertise to deploy an open-source project that is regularly updated.

It launched in July 2010 with Rackspace and NASA contributing the bulk of the code. Since then more than 50 companies have become involved, including networking start-up Nicira, Citrix, Cisco and Dell.

Some of the major code contributors to Essex were Rackspace, Nicira, Nebula, Cisco and Red Hat, Bryce said.

OpenStack rivals

Though many technology companies are involved in the project, it has not been free of tension: rival system Eucalyptus recently tied up with Amazon Web Services, while OpenStack has incomplete support for the AWS APIs; Citrix has moved away from the project; and Rackspace wields a large amount of control over the project due to its surprise acquisition of Anso Labs.

"I think that CloudStack is gaining better 'real-world' adoption than OpenStack, because it's actually usable in its current form without special effort (ie, compared to other commercial software)," Lydia Leong, a technology analyst with Gartner, wrote in a blog post on Tuesday. "But the Rackspace marketing machine has done an outstanding job with hyping OpenStack." 

The release of Essex highlights the gathering momentum of open-source in private cloud deployments and the conundrum it brings to companies, Simon Wardley, a researcher for CSC's Leading Edge Forum, wrote in a post to Forbes on Wednesday.

"For us customers, we're increasingly heading towards a future of competitive utility computing markets based around open-source systems providing the de facto APIs of Amazon," Wardley wrote. "Will it be CloudStack, Eucalyptus or OpenStack? That depends upon what moves they play next."

The next version of OpenStack, code-named Folsom, will be released in the autumn with a focus on networking improvements. 

Get the latest technology news and analysis, blogs and reviews delivered directly to your inbox with ZDNet UK's newsletters.
Editorial standards