Providing the Best Infrastructure-as-a-Service Solution with OpenStack

Cloud computing is great, but as the technology adoption grows, it also brings with it interesting new challenges. Cloud operators who deploy and manage the cloud infrastructure face the additional challenge of meticulously managing their costs, while constantly scaling services. Costs come in the form of capital expense for infrastructure, software and services, plus day-to-day operations and maintenance. As the infrastructure scales, these costs increase rapidly. To curb growing software costs, many organizations are beginning to look at alternative solutions in open source. The promise of open source addresses cost concerns and also brings added benefits of openness, flexibility, standardization, vendor neutrality and rich programmability.

What is OpenStack?

OpenStack is a collection of open-source software projects for deploying and managing the infrastructure and virtualization aspects of private and public clouds. The OpenStack user community primarily drives the development of these projects and consists of a range of people — code contributors to system architects, cloud administrators to end users and general enthusiasts to key decision makers. The picture below shows the high-level organization of the various OpenStack projects that provide the underlying services of a cloud.

Opportunity and Challenges with OpenStack

OpenStack is one of the fastest-growing, open-source communities. As highlighted in the OpenStack user survey, two of the key drivers for its fast-growing adoption for cloud are vendor neutrality and flexibility. These drivers are important to understand because this is an indicator of the market shift from proprietary, vendor-driven solutions to standardized, community-driven products. Vendor neutrality and flexibility derived from OpenStack give users the freedom to choose what best suits their needs and not worry about paying a high price or locking into a vendor technology.

On the other hand, some well-known early adopters have made a strategic move to OpenStack for their cloud projects, but they have had to invest tremendously in building up the in-house skills to make the software work and deal with the risks in reliability, supportability, skills gaps and predictability, which inherently come packaged with open source. From the user survey, it is also evident that there is need for documented reference architectures with particular emphasis on real/in-use/in-production architectures, which implies that customers need clear proof points to gain confidence to deploy OpenStack in real production settings.

What is Lenovo doing with OpenStack?

Lenovo is an official sponsor of the OpenStack community. We contribute code in a variety of areas, including networking, storage and server provisioning. We are committed to fostering this project. Our primary mission is to help customers solve their infrastructure challenges — cost, manageability, serviceability, performance or scalability — and enable them to put the technology to its fullest use. To that end, our strategy around OpenStack is focused on developing the right set of tools to enable the Lenovo platforms to seamlessly integrate with OpenStack, in addition to exposing the unique platform capabilities and value-add to the administrators and users of OpenStack cloud.

From a platform choice perspective, Lenovo provides a rich set of infrastructure products spanning servers, storage and networking to OpenStack users. The broad portfolio within each of these categories serves the needs of clients from small and medium businesses, educational institutions and service providers, all the way up to large enterprises. Our objective around OpenStack is to help all these customers choose the right mix of Lenovo products for their clouds, and help them with the integration of these products into their OpenStack environments.

Lenovo and Red Hat Partnership

In line with the OpenStack user feedback, the second part of our strategy is focused on providing choice to help our customers avoid vendor lock-in when it comes to the specific OpenStack distribution and value-add tools. We are working with key partners such as Red Hat to create solutions that cater to our customers’ needs and preferences. Red Hat is the top contributor to the OpenStack project and has developed a market-leading OpenStack distribution based on the well-known Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating system platform. We worked closely with Red Hat in integrating the Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform 6 to run on Lenovo hardware to provide the best platform for Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) Cloud. We created a tested and validated reference architecture that demonstrates a production-quality deployment of OpenStack, taking into account all the key requirements around availability, redundancy, scalability, performance and ease of deployment. In this reference architecture,  we also provide examples of real-world OpenStack deployments and discuss best practices and important considerations when architecting an OpenStack cloud.

The Future

We are excited to see the opportunity that OpenStack presents to our customers in addressing their infrastructure deployment and management challenges. In a series of future posts on this topic, we will outline more details around the exciting work we are doing on Lenovo platforms, integrating the products and enhancing the OpenStack experience and usability. Please watch this space and let us know what you think!