Inside Advanced Scale Challenges|Wednesday, October 26, 2016
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OpenStack Service Targets Deployment Hassles 


Rackspace and Red Hat are responding to complaints that the OpenStack cloud-computing platform is too complicated with a new managed service feature designed to make it easier to deploy OpenStack while providing access to operational expertise.

The partners this week launched an OpenStack-as-a-service model that includes a managed private cloud from Red Hat (NYSE: RHT). Rackspace (NYSE: RAX) also said it would provide a service-level agreement (SLA) for the new model in order to back its claim of easier OpenStack deployment.

As part of the SLA, Rackspace and Red Hat said they would provide enterprise customer with a "two-year maintenance and support cycle" to provide long-term support for OpenStack deployments.

"OpenStack is complex," Scott Crenshaw, Rackspace's senior vice president for strategy and product, acknowledged recently. "The path to simplicity is clear: deliver OpenStack private and public clouds not as a distribution, but instead as a service."

The partners said Rackspace would offer its customers the Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform to run either in their datacenter private cloud or as a managed, private cloud service.

Darrin Hanson, general manager of Rackspace's OpenStack Private Cloud unit, asserted in a blog post: "We’re refining the architecture so it’s a supportable, production-ready private cloud we can back with our industry-leading 99.99 percent uptime SLA guarantee."

The open-source cloud vendors have been working together since 2003: Rackspace was the first managed hosting provider for Red hat Enterprise Linux.

As they seek to address deployment complexity, the partners also are attempting to position OpenStack as the best infrastructure for running emerging application containers in production.

"OpenStack provides a single control plane for managing containerized applications, virtualized applications and bare metal applications," Rackspace's Crenshaw noted. "Containers will be a core part of future IT infrastructure, and OpenStack is the easiest, fastest and most reliable way to realize their benefits within the enterprise."

The partners are attempting to confront the steep learning curve required for OpenStack adoption centered on operational complexities of deploying the cloud-computing platform. Another lingering issue is the lack of skills needed to get OpenStack up and running in production settings.

To address those issues, Rackspace also has partnered with PLUMgrid Inc., which provides software-defined networking (SDN) and network feature virtualization tools for OpenStack. The company offers an SDN virtualization and monitoring platform designed to speed up network deployment and simplify operations.

PLUMgrid CEO CEO Larry Lang told an industry conference on Friday (Feb. 12) that more than 1,200 "virtualized network experts" have been certified under an OpenStack training program. The certification program "ensures a fresh pool of talent to meet growing job demands in this market," Lang said.

Meanwhile, Rackspace is promising more details next week on its extended partnership with Red Hat and details on the OpenStack-as-a-service architecture, software, infrastructure components and support levels.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 25 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as Executive Editor for Electronic Engineering Times.

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