Q&A: Best of OpenStack Folsom, a 2012 recap, and what's coming in Grizzly

In this Q&A, the OpenStack Foundation's chairman highlights features of the Folsom release, recaps the project's 2012 progress and previews Grizzly.

Editor's note: In the two-and-a-half years since OpenStack made what it calls a "massively scalable cloud operating system" freely available to anyone building private and public clouds, the open source project has issued half a dozen software releases and acquired contributors such as AT&T, Intel and HP. With the establishment of the OpenStack Foundation last September, the project became a registered non-profit with more than $10 million in funding and 5,600 individual members worldwide.

Alan ClarkAlan Clark

In the first segment of this two-part Q&A, OpenStack Foundation Chairman Alan Clark discusses the encouraging and mounting amount of support the project has received so far. Clark also is the director of industry initiatives, emerging standards and open source at SUSE, a private Linux distribution provider that also sells commercial Linux-based products. Clark has more than 20 years of experience in the software industry working with the Cloud Security Alliance, the Open Document Foundation's OASIS technical committees, the DMTF Cloud Incubator and other projects.

In this interview with SearchCloudProvider.com, Clark also shares some of the stand-out features of Folsom, OpenStack's most recent release, and provides a preview of what to expect for the next release coming out in April.

Looking back on the past year, what do you think were OpenStack's most defining moments, or its most important achievements?

Alan Clark: I would say the biggest thing is just the momentum that has come out from OpenStack this year. We created the foundation in September, and the number of companies and people that were involved is surprising. When we started creating a foundation earlier in [2012], they were thinking [we'd recruit] three to five platinum members. Then we ended up with eight platinum members and had to put a cap and say, "That's enough, we can't handle any more." We've got several other [companies] out there that are now gold members and are saying, "We want to be platinum. So, if any of you guys want to quit, we'll take your place." We have a commitment from all the platinum members that they're there for at least three years.

There are more than 850 organizations that are now participating in OpenStack. That's huge.

Alan Clark,
chairman, OpenStack Foundation

We have this huge commitment and a ton of momentum with the new foundation, and it's not just with the service providers. [Companies like] Rackspace are involved, but we've also got all the infrastructure vendors there. We've got all the top enterprise and community-managed [distributors] involved. There are more than 850 organizations that are now participating in OpenStack. That's huge. When you think about it, it started two years ago between NASA and Rackspace.

The number of contributors has grown dramatically as well: We've got more than 200 people that contribute per month, yet we've been able to maintain the six-month release cycle that we're on. We just released Folsom in September, and they're working on Grizzly now and targeting it [for release] in April, and appear to be on target. So, with all this momentum and all the growth, to still be able to maintain a release schedule is pretty awesome.

What were some of the things you were most excited about in the OpenStack Folsom release in September?

Clark: There's so much. Originally the theme of Folsom was stability. The [OpenStack community] got a lot of questions last year, and [critics] kept coming up saying, "This is unproven new code. This is not tested, and it's not reliable." So, they focused a lot on stability with Folsom, but they also had more than 185 [other] features that came out, including Quantum, which is for virtual networking. Plus, at the same time, we have two [OpenStack] projects in incubation and a whole bunch of others on the list progressing towards our incubation cycle. It's hard to pick out any one feature, because there were so many, but a lot of good things went into it: stability, plus a lot of new features and a couple of new components.

As you mentioned, the OpenStack community is on target for its next release. What can you tell us about it at this point?

Clark: The code name for it is Grizzly, and we just reached the first milestone for it at the end of November.

Each of the projects [within OpenStack] has a list of what they call "blueprints," or the features they're focusing on, and they [are categorized] as critical, high, medium or low, and then they prioritize those for each of the milestones. For example, Keystone [an identity management project in OpenStack] was focused on their application program interfaces (APIs) for this first milestone. And Nova [the compute project] was focused on some features that are tied to Quantum, and so forth.

There's been a lot of integration updates in the different modules. A lot of the focus has been on ease of installation -- trying to make [the platform] easier to upgrade as well as [adding new] features.

We have a summit every six months, and those summits are focused on the next release. So, we had the Folsom release in September and we also had the summit. And at the summit, a lot of the feature lists get developed for the next release. So, the [most recent] summit was focused on this Grizzly release for the next six months, and that's where a lot of that work happens.

In April, Grizzly will be finished and released, and we'll have our summit which will plan for the next release.

Continue reading: Learn more about where OpenStack is headed in 2013 in the second part of this Q&A.

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Jessica Scarpati, site editor.

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