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OpenStack 101 for Network Folks

By Andrew Lerner | May 16, 2014 | 0 Comments


There was an OpenStack summit this week in Atlanta, and to prepare for any newsworthy networking announcements, I wanted to brush-up on the topic. So, I took the time to re-read a research note from colleague Lydia Leong:

An Overview of OpenStack, 2014, 19 March 2014 | ID: G00262176,

This note is an absolute must-read for networking folks. Many of the networking practitioners running mainstream corporate networks have only surface-level knowledge of OpenStack (after all, they’ve got networks to run). This is reiterated in my interactions with clients, where the most common OpenStack-related questions/comments are along these lines:

  • What the heck is OpenStack?
  • I think our server/virtualization guys looked (and/or are looking) at it, but we’re not running it.
  • The architecture team talks about it a lot but we don’t run it in production.
  • Isn’t OpenStack just a freeware (slimmed down) version of VMware? or this slight variation:  OpenStack is like a Linux version of VMware, right?

In addition, nearly all networking vendors’ slideware and marketecture now includes numerous references to OpenStack (i.e., plugins, APIs, integration, oh my!). So if you’re a mainstream enterprise networking guy/gal and have been pitched anything from a networking vendor recently (WOC, ADC, Fabrics, Routing/Switch, SDN, ACI, NSX etc. etc.), it is likely you’ve been subjected to some OpenStack slideware. Thus, it is easy to get caught up in (or believe) the hype around OpenStack. However, OpenStack doesn’t yet run the world (legacy runs the world) and Lydia’s document serves as a great primer for network-centric folks and here are a few tidbits…

  • What is it?  OpenStack is an open-source Cloud Management Platform (CMP), usually used in the building of private clouds.
  • Is anyone doing it? OpenStack is at a very early adoption phase and very few mainstream organizations are running production workloads on OpenStack today.
  • OpenStack means no more lock-in? Not so fast…despite being open-source, OpenStack currently fosters no less lock-in than commercial proprietary CMPs.
  • Networking? The networking component of OpenStack is called Neutron, which also made some news this week here.

Note:  As I was authoring this blog, Lydia provided an update after attending the Summit, which you can find here (Spoiler Alert:  No Major Change).

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