Inside Advanced Scale Challenges|Wednesday, December 13, 2017
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Red Hat OpenStack 5.0 Mashes Up Icehouse And RHEL 7 Beta 

Everybody is trying to make money on the OpenStack wave and every day a new distribution seems to pop into existence. Linux enthusiasts are probably having flashbacks to the late 1990s and early 2000s when that open source operating system first took off in the enterprise. Red Hat may not have been an early mover on OpenStack, but as the dominant commercial Linux company, it chances with success in building up a substantial OpenStack support business are higher than many of the other players.

At the OpenStack Summit in Atlanta today, Red Hat rolled out a beta of its packaging of the “Icehouse” release of the open source cloud controller, which was delivered by the community a month ago.

To a certain extent, OpenStack has pushed aside both Eucalyptus and CloudStack as the default open source alternative to VMware’s ESXi hypervisor and vCloud tools and Microsoft’s amalgam of its Hyper-V, Systems Center, and Azure Pack, but these two still have their adherents and are not going to be driven from the competitive field any time soon.

Radhesh Balakrishnan, general manager of virtualization and OpenStack at Red Hat, said that OpenStack is maturing quickly enough that the company is going to extend the support cycle for its OpenStack variant, which is technically known as Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform. For the prior 4.0 release, Red Hat was offering a twelve-month support span, but with the 5.0 release, Red Hat will be stretching that out to three years. That may not be at the same seven-year support schedule for its core Enterprise Linux, but it is getting closer. One of the reasons Red Hat can support the Icehouse release for longer is that the OpenStack community worked hard to give it an enterprise polish compared to the prior “Grizzly” and “Havana” releases. Because rolling upgrades are not yet fully supported with OpenStack, it stands to reason that these releases will be in the field for some time. Red Hat has to extend the support term if it hopes to capture customers, particularly with Canonical embedding OpenStack Icehouse in its Ubuntu Server 14.04 Long Term Support release, which was also just announced last month and which will be supported for five years.

The Red Hat OpenStack 5.0 beta includes the beta version of the upcoming Enterprise Linux 7, and a later update to the beta will include RHEL 6.5 for those who do not want to take the RHEL 7 plunge right now, or can’t because of their own product cycles. Red Hat will support RHEL 6.5 and 7 side-by-side “for a time” and it is not clear if it will be for the full three years that OpenStack Platform 5.0 is supported. (You can see more about features and known issues in the release notes for OpenStack Platform 5.0.)

Red Hat has only been shipping OpenStack platform since last July and it has a relatively long product cycle. Balakrishnan tells EnterpriseTech that it has a “healthy double digit number” of users in production already and has proofs of concept that measure in the “three digits.” About 65 percent of OpenStack Platform users are in North America, with 25 percent in EMEA. The remainder in Asia/Pacific may only be 10 percent of the customers but Balakrishnan says that deployments here are much larger in scope.

The pattern of deployment for OpenStack follows the standard for most distributed systems, be it Hadoop analytics or Memcached caching or NoSQL databases. Some pilots have only one use case – often test and development – and then after this shows success, other use cases are added and the private cloud grows from a half rack or rack of nodes to hundreds. The usual sectors are the early adopters – financial services, public sector, and research – and in many cases, customers want to be able to take their ESXi virtual servers and bring them under the management control of OpenStack. The other big adopters are telecommunication firms, who are sick and tired of paying for expensive appliances for their networks and who want to virtualize these devices and run them on a much cheaper and more malleable cloud.

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