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Cisco UCS in the world of open source computing

- May 28, 2013 - 0 Comments

A few weeks ago, I was at  Cisco Open Source Conference 2013 – a conference hosted by Cisco where we had speakers from IBM, Canonical, Red Hat and Rackspace, among others.  I learned a lot, specifically about the evolution of Hadoop and the OpenStack project.  As a follow on, I collated different activities around Cisco UCS and OpenStack, which I will share in this blog.

Dr. Dan Frye, Vice President, Open Systems Development, IBM, head of the IBM Linux Technology Center (LTC) gave the keynote address at the conference. It was nostalgic considering the fact that I sat in the same aisle as some of the LTC team members in the IBM facility in Austin, a few years ago. His talk included some fascinating historical anecdotes and three lessons IBM learned about open source software development-

  1. “Develop in the open” (Don’t try to contribute finished software products, heed to feedback)
  2. “Don’t reinvent the penguin” (“Scratch your own itch” – interesting phrase to explain the behavior of communities which want to solve the problems at hand and not those perceived to be problems by external entities)
  3. “Work with the process” (The community process is usually an agile methodology with no assumptions on roadmaps and delivery dates)

These lessons are invaluable in light of the open source projects such as OpenDaylight (no pun intended) and OpenStack that Cisco is now an integral part of.  According to Dr. Frye, these newer open source consortiums have the following characteristics:

  1. Larger number of initial members
  2. Quick starts
  3. Relatively large initial budgets
  4. Often require the commitment of a specified level of FTEs

Chris Wright from Red Hat expanded upon the principles and ethos of open source projects including release early, release often, iterative development and the culture of giving back. He contrasted the Linux kernel development project with the OpenStack project showing the relative speed of projects with the number of developers and commits by release. He gave a fantastic overview of the various Openstack component projects. He also identified two newly graduated projects namely, Ceilometer and Heat in the Grizzly release. I gave a talk on the requirements for the Ceilometer project, and you can find the slide deck on slideshare.

After attending the conference, I looked for projects within Cisco, which used OpenStack or contributed to it.  Cisco is a major contributor to the soon to be renamed Quantum networking project.  The Cisco WebEx group is a poster child of the OpenStack community.  In the true spirit of open source development, we now have a project underway which addresses the challenge of setting up Openstack on Cisco UCS servers using the UCS Manager, Cobbler and Puppet.  You can find a scripted configuration of Cisco UCS servers using the Python SDK on Cisco CDN.  The scripts add the configuration of newly prepared servers to a build node, which then automates OpenStack deployment on the server system. Cisco UCS is the ideal platform for MaaS (Metal as a Service)- a term used by Canonical.  Since the Cisco UCS exposes an open XML API, users can harness “Metal as a service” with minimal software investment.

Cisco is exploring a partnership with Red Hat within the Openstack context and is a platinum sponsor of the upcoming Red Hat Summit in Boston.  Ram Appalaraju, Vice President, Marketing in Cisco’s Data Center Group will deliver a keynote address on June 12 at 9:30 AM.  If you plan on attending you may also want to check out the demonstration showing the automated installation of the Red Hat Openstack distribution on Cisco UCS.


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