Home Automated Operations OpenStack Ussuri is ready for the Edge Computing revolution

OpenStack Ussuri is ready for the Edge Computing revolution

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The OpenStack Foundation releases Ussuri, the 21st release of the OpenStack platform today. This release delivers on some interesting new features for telcos and edge computing use cases. Let’s go through the changes in Ussuri, which we’ll break down in three core areas:

  1. Core Infrastructure Layer
  2. Security
  3. New and Emerging Use Cases

“With the Ussuri release, the community has delivered features that range from bare metal to edge applications and from automated server and accelerator deployment to security enhancements in load balancers and containers.”, said Jonathan Bryce, executive director of the OpenStack Foundation.

Core Infrastructure Layer: Not for just VMs anymore

While not specifically tied into this exact release, OpenStack has been maturing and broadening its scope to not run ‘just’ virtual machines, but also containers and on bare metal. This is important, as OpenStack powers many public cloud platforms, as well as thousands of private clouds at a massive scale. A one-size-fits-all approach to computing doesn’t apply at these scales, and would limit the platform’s adoption. Support for bare metal, specialized hardware accelerators(like FPGAs, GPUs, SoCs, DPDK/SPDK, eBPF and others) as well as containers is crucial for OpenStack users, especially those in the telco, cloud gaming and real-time /low-latency use cases.

In Ussuri, the focus was on integrating the experience and bridging the gap across virtual machines, containers and bare-metal workloads, so that OpenStack works in different types of environments. This is important to support new types of use cases, as we’ll discuss below.

Notable enhancements include:

  • Cyborg (accelerator lifecycle management) integrates with Nova (compute), so users can use Nova to launch server instances with accelerators.
  • In Kuryr, the bridge between OpenStack and Container Networking, support for IPv6 was added.
  • The ability to launch Octavia load balancers in specific availability zones for edge computing environments.

But what about Kubernetes?

Kubernetes is the darling container orchestrator of the Open Source. For a compute platform, you’d imagine OpenStack to be all over Kubernetes. The Ussuri release notes make the Foundation’s stance crystal-clear, even if by omission: ‘Kubernetes’ is mentioned only once.

And while Zun, the OpenStack Container service, does in fact integrate with Kubernetes, Zun aims to simplify the container lifecycle management by removing the need to manage servers or clusters. Jonathan Bryce, the Foundation’s executive director compared Zun to Amazon’s Fargate: a simpler container orchestration service in lieu of using Kubernetes directly.

Confusingly, Zun is borrowing concepts and capabilities from Kubernetes in the Ussuri release.

Security: across the board

Security is an important pillar of this release, to support deployment and configuration of OpenStack in a more diverse set of circumstances, including those with fewer security controls than the traditional datacenter, like edge computing and industrial IoT use cases.

Most notably:

  • Authentication of interactions between Ironic (the bare metal service) and its remote agent enabling deployment over untrusted networks.
  • Octavia (the load balancer) can now customize which TLS ciphers to use to comply with security compliance requirements.
  • Kolla (the containerized deployment of OpenStack services) now has initial support for TLS encryption of backend API services, enabling end-to-end encryption of API traffic for Keystone.

New Use Cases

OpenStack is gearing up to become the infrastructure platform that telcos use for their Edge computing platforms. After missing out on the public cloud push (none of the hyperscalers use OpenStack), the Foundation’s clearly looking to become more relevant again.

With these enhancements, it’s becoming clear what direction OpenStack is going in. In addition to providing a solid IaaS framework for companies across many industries, OpenStack is clearly moving towards the Edge Computing space, with telcos as their main target. A great example of this is StarlingX, a low-latency container platform for Industrial IoT, telecom and video delivery use cases. Version 4.0 is expected in July 2020, the most notable improvement is accelerator (FPGA) support enhancements.

All-in-all, it seems to me that some of the earlier woes of the OpenStack community, resulting in a lack of focus for the project have been largely solved. The Foundation is clearly focussing on keeping existing users happy and simultaneously innovating in areas that are most interesting to users in the telco and edge computing world.

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