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Thoughts on #OpenStack and Software-Defined Storage

May 14, 2014 at 6:18 am PST

This week has been the semi-annual OpenStack Summit in Atlanta, GA. In a rare occurrence I’ve been able to be here as an attendee, which has given me wide insight into a world of Open Source development I rarely get to see outside of some interpersonal conversations with DevOps people. (If you’re not sure what OpenStack is, or what the difference is between it and OpenFlow, OpenDaylight, etc., you may want to read an earlier blog I wrote that explains it in plain English).

On the first day of the conference there was an “Ask the Experts” session based upon storage. Since i’ve been trying to work my way into this world of Programmability via my experience with storage and storage networking, I figured it would be an excellent place to start. Also, it was the first session of the conference.

During the course of the Q&A, John Griffith, the Program Technical Lead (PTL) of the Cinder project (Cinder is the name of the core project within OpenStack that deals with block storage) happened to mention that he believed that Cinder represented software-defined storage as a practical application of the concept.

I’m afraid I have to respectfully disagree. At least, I would hesitate to give it that kind of association yet. Read More »

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Openstack Expectations for Summit

Openstack SummitAs I was flying to Atlanta for Openstack Summit, I was thinking about the difference in my expectations for this summit from the summit last year in Portland.

In Portland, Havana was just released and was starting to become interesting to service providers as the project was maturing and gaining interest with some enterprises. The Havana release was not ready for enterprises but Icehouse, the next release was bringing features that are of great interest. I was interested in getting involved in Icehouse so I attended with my R&D team and networked. There was not much excitement at the event and the attendance was not that great. Walking into the exhibit hall was depressing as there were only a small number of exhibits and mostly tables with brochures.

One year later, and the excitement around Openstack and Icehouse is high. Openstack has finally hit the feature capability and scale requirements needed to be accepted by the enterprise. Over the last year, numerous enterprises performed Proof of Concepts (PoCs) on Havana and 2014 is quickly becoming the year of Openstack coming out! The Icehouse features that are of greatest interest are:

  • Ceilometer support in Horizon for administrators to view daily usage reports per project across services.
  • Keystone now enables federated authentication via Shibboleth for multiple Identity Providers, and mapping federated attributes into OpenStack group-based role assignments 
  • Keystone assignment backed is completely separate from the identity backend. This allows much greater flexibility in which data comes from where. This allows an enterprise back your deployment’s identity data to LDAP, and your authorization data to RSA for instance.
  • Token KVS driver is now capable of writing to persistent Key-Value stores such as Redis, Cassandra, or MongoDB. In combination with above, this means we can use Redis or Cassandra for tokens and LDAP for user/pass/domain/etc.
  • Notifications  are now emitted in response to create, update and delete events on roles, groups, and trusts.
  • LDAP driver for the assignment backend now supports group-based role assignment operations.
  • Ceilometer API now gives direct access to samples decoupled from a specific meter events API, in the style of StackTach 
  • New Metric sources, including Neutron north-bound API on SDN controller, VMware vCenter Server API, SNMP daemons on bare metal hosts and OpenDaylight REST APIs    [ Check also Mike Cohen’s blog  Delivering Policy in the Age of OpenSource  ]

For the full set of features, please refer to: https://wiki.openstack.org/wiki/ReleaseNotes/Icehouse

I’m really looking forward to the Summit in Atlanta and will be spending most of my time in the Juno Design Summit contributing to Heat, Ceilometer, and Solum.

You can also follow me on Twitter @kenowens12

 

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Delivering Policy in the Age of Open Source

This is an exciting time in the history of datacenter infrastructure.  We are witnessing the collision of two major trends: the maturation of open source software and the redefinition of infrastructure policy.
The trend towards open source is self-evident.  Platforms such as OpenStack and OpenDaylight are gaining huge developer mindshare as well as support and investment from major vendors.  Even some newer technologies like Docker, which employs linux kernel containers, and Ceph, a software-based storage solution, offer promising paths in open source.  Given the fundamental requirements of interoperability in architecturally diverse infrastructure environments, its no surprise that open source is gaining momentum.

The second trend around policy is a bit earlier in its evolution but equally disruptive.  Today, there is a huge disconnect between how application developers think about their requirements and the languages and tools through which they are communicated to the infrastructure itself.  For example,  just to handle networking, a simple three tier app must be deconstructed into an array of VLANs, ACLs, and routes spread across a number of devices.  Storage and compute present similar challenges as well.   To simplify this interaction and create more scalable systems, we need to actually rethink how resources are requested and distributed between different components.  This really boils down to shifting the abstraction model away from configuring individual devices to focus on separately capturing user intent, operational, infrastructure, and compliance requirements.

At Cisco, we’ve really embraced both of these trends.  We are active contributors to over 100 open source projects and were founding members of OpenStack Neutron and OpenDaylight.  We’ve also made open source a successful business practice by incorporating and integrating popular projects with our products.  In parallel, Cisco has accumulated a lot of experience in describing policy through the work we’ve done with Cisco Unified Computing (UCS) and most recently with Cisco Application-Centric Infrastructure (ACI).

Building on this foundation, we see a unique opportunity to collaborate with the open source community to deliver a vision for policy-driven infrastructure.  This will enhance the usability, scale, and interoperability of open source software and benefit the entire infrastructure ecosystem.

This vision includes two initiatives in the open source community:

GroupBasedPolicy

  1. Group-Based Policy: An information model designed to express applications’ resource requirements from the network through a hardware-independent, declarative language and leave a simple control and dataplane in place.  This approach replaces traditional networking constructs like VLANs with new primitives such as “groups”, which model tiers or components of an application, and “contracts” describing relationships between them.  Group-Based Policy will be available in the context of OpenStack Neutron as well as OpenDaylight through a plug in model that can support any software or hardware infrastructure.
  2. OpFlex: A distributed framework of intelligent agents within each networking device designed to resolve policies.  These agents would translate an abstract, hardware-independent policy taken from a logically central repository into device-specific features and capabilities.

 

Let’s look a bit more closely at each of these initiatives.

Read More »

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#EngineersUnplugged S5|Ep8: Nexus 1000V on OpenStack!

April 23, 2014 at 5:42 pm PST

In this week’s episode of Engineers Unplugged, Colin Lynch (@UCSGuru) and Giuseppe Paterno (@gpaterno) discuss Nexus 1000V running on OpenStack and the options this creates for the network engineer. It’s all about faster deployment and choice, let’s watch:

Don’t miss the surprise unicorn ending!

This is Engineers Unplugged, where technologists talk to each other the way they know best, with a whiteboard. The rules are simple:

  1. Episodes will publish weekly (or as close to it as we can manage)
  2. Subscribe to the podcast here: engineersunplugged.com
  3. Follow the #engineersunplugged conversation on Twitter
  4. Submit ideas for episodes or volunteer to appear by Tweeting to @CommsNinja
  5. Practice drawing unicorns

Join the behind the scenes by liking Engineers Unplugged on Facebook.

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#EngineersUnplugged S5|Ep7: How Data Becomes Information

April 16, 2014 at 10:31 am PST

In this week’s episode, Nils Swart (@NLNils) and Stace Hipperson (@stacehipperson) discuss how data becomes information via Open Daylight. Have they whiteboarded network engineer nirvana? Watch and see. More data!

This is in fact unicorns in a distance. Foiled again:

Stace Hipperson and Nils Swart own their unicorns.

Stace Hipperson and Nils Swart own their unicorns.

This is Engineers Unplugged, where technologists talk to each other the way they know best, with a whiteboard. The rules are simple:

  1. Episodes will publish weekly (or as close to it as we can manage)
  2. Subscribe to the podcast here: engineersunplugged.com
  3. Follow the #engineersunplugged conversation on Twitter
  4. Submit ideas for episodes or volunteer to appear by Tweeting to @CommsNinja
  5. Practice drawing unicorns

Join the behind the scenes by liking Engineers Unplugged on Facebook.

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