Having first ignored containers, the OpenStack cloud suite is now moving quickly toward putting them on an equal footing with virtual machines and bare metal servers as first-class citizens in an OpenStack cloud.
That move will give OpenStack a broader appeal as a platform on which the enterprise may base its infrastructure for the future.
It's an approach at which OpenStack has little choice but to succeed.
If it at one time the project entertained the notion of being an open source alternative to Amazon Web Services, those days are far behind it. The surviving purveyors of OpenStack in the public cloud are HP Helion and Rackspace Public Cloud, and neither is making inroads on the dominant suppliers.
OpenStack is fighting for a foothold in the data center, where it can become the infrastructure of a private cloud for many companies. So far it's succeeded in getting its foot in the door.
At the same time VMware crowds it on that front.
Customers can always convert part of their virtualized hosts into an OpenStack cloud. VMware will even help customers install a VMware-friendly version of OpenStack -- VMware Integrated OpenStack -- but many will choose to stick with an all VMware-proprietary operation than opt for that route. Why layer on the complexity of OpenStack if you don't need to?
OpenStack advocates aren't leaving the container opportunity up to chance. The vigor of OpenStack's movement toward container management was on display earlier this week at the OpenStack Silicon Valley, an event held Aug. 26 and 27 in Mountain View.
At the event Boris Renski, chief marketing officer of Mirantis, talked about both the Murano and Magnum as initiatives that will broaden the appeal of OpenStack when it comes to deploying applications in the enterprise.
The Murano Project seeks to establish a catalogue of deployable applications from a repository inside OpenStack. The applications can be pre-configured to various templates. Then users can select the one they wish to get a ready-to-go version. One use for such a repository would be to supply applications that are easily loaded into a container and moved to an OpenStack host somewhere.
Mirantis established the Murano Project, Renski said, and contributes heavily to it. Mirantis also just received $100 million from Intel and other investors to fund its expansion as a consulting firm implementing OpenStack clouds.
Renski and other speakers also cited the Magnum Project to give OpenStack a container orchestration mechanism. A consensus about the need for containers appeared during the OpenStack Summit in Atlanta in May 2014. Adrian Otto, a distinguished architect at Rackspace followed up on it. He started holding meetings on May 20, 2014 and formed a container team in November 2014. Magnum became an official OpenStack project in March.
Otto frequently refers to it in his personal blog. He demoed the first results of its work at the OpenStack Summit in Vancouver May 18.
In its first release Magnum is a combination of OpenStack Identity, Docker, and Kubernetes. OpenStack users may log into their usual account, invoke a container service through an API, chose a container cluster launch mechanism (either Docker Swarm or Kubernetes), and then proceed to commission workloads in containers the way they would create virtual servers under the Nova compute engine of OpenStack. They may also opt to run containers on bare metal, in a virtual machine, or inside another container in a process called nesting containers.
[Want to see how Intel is involved with container management? See Intel Gives Virtual Machines Container-like Speed.]
Magnum "is designed to allow deployment of containers on any form factor," noted this account of the demo in Vancouver. Earlier, Otto had noted in his May 11 blog that Magnum "stands apart from other container software solutions because it’s implemented as multi-tenant from the bottom up."
"If you are an OpenStack user and can launch Nova instances or Cinder (OpenStack storage system) volumes, then you can launch Docker containers," states the Frequently Asked Questions on Magnum.
Otto appeared at the Silicon Valley event Aug. 26 and announced that Rackspace and Intel were establishing an OpenStack Innovation Center with two 1,000-node clusters for testing at scale of OpenStack software. OpenStack developers have not had access to such a large test site previously, he noted. The center will be located at Rackspace's San Antonio headquarters.