OpenStack 'Bexar' Release Adds Cross-Hypervisor Support

The open source cloud project is adding ease-of-use features, support for Hyper-V, and "getting started" documentation.
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OpenStack, the open source project working to establish a standard cloud system for both suppliers and users, has offered its second installment of a basic cloud operating system with more enterprise-friendly features.

The additions are meant to make it easier to install OpenStack as governing software for either a public service provider's or an enterprise customer's cloud operation. They make it possible for users of an OpenStack-based cloud to pre-install and create application environments, spinning up more copies when they're needed to scale out.

OpenStack launched last July as Rackspace, a cloud infrastructure provider, and NASA, whose Nebula cloud is a pacesetter for the federal government, said they were pooling their expertise in a joint open source project. The initial "Austin" release of OpenStack last October included OpenStack Compute for provisioning and managing cloud servers and OpenStack ObjectStorage, a cloud file system based in part on Rackspace's Cloud Files service.

Thursday afternoon, Rackspace made available for free download the second issue of OpenStack, the Bexar release. (Bexar, pronounced "Bear" in Texas, is the name of the county that surrounds San Antonio, where the second OpenStack Design Summit was held last November.)

"We think there's a sense that a standard is emerging and it's open (OpenStack)... This is the time for people to get their OpenStack implementations going," said Mark Collier, VP of business development at Rackspace and a "stacker" or staff member of the project,, in an interview.

OpenStack Compute has added support for IPv6, so its adopters won't be outmoded if the present Internet protocol addressing scheme runs out of numbers. OpenStack's API calls have been internationalized so that implementers will get messages back in their own language (or at least one of the eight that are now operative). Step-by-step guides on how to get started with OpenStack Compute and OpenStack ObjectStore have been completed and are now available at

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There's another, behind-the-scenes factor potentially driving implementations, said Jim Curry, Rackspace CTO, also known as the chief OpenStack stacker, in an interview. OpenStack will be included in the next distribution of Ubuntu Linux, Natty Narwhal 11.04, from Canonical. Ubuntu is currently the most frequently submitted Linux distribution accompanying workloads running in Rackspace's cloud service.

"These guys (Canonical) are going to make it a lot easier to stand up an OpenStack Cloud," Curry noted.

When Ubuntu is the operating system of a Rackspace physical host running several workloads, its activities and data are made readily available to the OpenStack cloud management layer, noted Jesse Andrews, co-founder of Anso Labs, the technical developer of NASA Nebula and an OpenStack supporter, in an interview.

Other features in the Bexar release include: support for Microsoft's Hyper-V hypervisor, contributed by with help from Microsoft. OpenStack previously listed support for Red Hat's KVM and Citrix Systems' XenServer. "OpenStack is designed to be hypervisor agnostic," said Collier.

Support for the missing hypervisor on the list, VMware's ESX Server, will be added later this year, he said. OpenStack contributors are already at work on the support, including developers from Citrix Systems, who gained knowledge of ESX Server as they built conversion tools for the Open Virtual Machine format (OVF). VMware has its own set of cloud building software, called vCloud, with its own ESX Server virtual machines as the target supported workload. It is not a member of the OpenStack alliance. Collier said it is "welcome to join at any time."

Object Storage can now support storage of files of unlimited sizes. Object Storage and OpenStack Compute have also been more tightly integrated.

The next OpenStack release, due in April, will include support for live migration of virtual machines in a cloud environment.

Vendors behind the OpenStack project also now include the networking giant Cisco Systems, Extreme Networks, and Grid Dynamics, bringing the total to over 50 members. Microsoft, Intel, and Citrix were among its earlier supporters.

Competitors include Amazon Web Services with its market-leading EC2 cloud, Eucalyptus Systems with its Amazon-compatible API set, VMware with its proprietary vCloud line, and Nimbula Systems, with its open source Director cloud operating system.

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