Xena, the latest version of OpenStack

October saw the release of Xena, the latest version of OpenStack. With the new release of the platform, its users gain even more opportunities to build cloud environments.

OpenStack is developing at a rapid pace, as shown not only by the number of changes made every day, of which there are around 130 but also by the frequency with which new versions are released. Although the system is just over 11 years old, it has lived to see 24 editions. The latest of these, Xena, contains 15,000 patches contributed by 680 developers from 125 organizations.

It took them six months to work on Xena. The numbers don’t lie – it is one of the most active open-source projects in the world. It is not insignificant that Xena comes when OpenStack is on a perfect streak. More than a hundred new clouds based on the solution have been built in the last 18 months, bringing the total number of cores managed by OpenStack to more than 25 million. What new things does Xena get? The list of changes is quite long, but specialists and users of the platform consider the most essential innovations concerning integration, support for new hardware features, and reduction of technological debt.

Fewer modules, more integration, and new features

It is often said that setting up a public or private cloud-based on OpenStack is not an easy or pleasant task. OpenStack is a powerful platform with a massive number of options available. This is a significant advantage of the solution, although sometimes the multitude of functions and the complexity of the software scare off potential users.

Suffice it to say that the platform includes around 40 modules. In the case of Xena, there are exactly 38 of them. Earlier versions were even more elaborate. Wallaby consisted of 39 components and Victoria of 42. If that were not enough, external components can further support OpenStack. Nevertheless, it is unnecessary to reach for 38 modules to run a project. Users mainly use basic components such as Nova, Swift, Cinder, Neutron, Horizon, Keystone, Heat, Telemetry, or Glance.

OpenStack Cyborg

Cyborg (formerly known as Nomad) is worth adding to this group. This OpenStack project aims to provide a generic framework for managing acceleration resources (i.e., various types of accelerators such as GPU, FPGA, ASIC, NP, SoC, NVMe/NOF SSD, ODP, DPDK/ SPDK, and so on).

The authors of Xena have placed a solid emphasis on project integration. This is shown in the consolidation of Cyborg, Nova, and Neutron. A series of patches have been introduced to Nova to support the creation of Nova servers with Neutron ports that are actually supported by PCI devices (SmartNIC); Cyborg is responsible for their management. Although this new feature does not change anything from the user’s point of view, it brings convenience to the operator by offering an external management service (Cyborg) to facilitate configuration. In addition, the libvirt virt Nova driver supports any PCI devices, not only virtual GPUs that use the VFIO-mdev virtualization structure, such as network cards or compute accelerators.

OpenStack Ironic

Notable among the new hardware features are changes to improve the performance of OpenStack’s Cinder block storage services. In Xena, multi-attachment support has been added to allow users to connect the same block storage device to multiple virtual machines. Furthermore, Ironic provides:

  • Significant API improvements in node list retrieval performance.
  • Support for visibility of boot_mode and secure_boot states on a bare metal node.
  • The ability to set these states as API actions.

Neutron’s network service gains new capabilities by introducing ECPMP multipath routing, a computer networking technology that allows network devices to be configured to prevent loops. Its use increases the reliability of network environments, and ECPMP is typically used in networks where high reliability is required.

OpenStack Blazer

It is also worth mentioning that Blazar (the resource reservation service), starting with the Xena version, introduces openstackclient support on python-blazarclient. This means that users can interact with Blazar using OpenStack reservation commands, providing a command-line interface similar to interacting with other OpenStack projects. One of the changes is OpenStack-Ansible, the most popular solution among OpenStack users (47 percent of OpenStack User Survey respondents) for scaling automation and complex system deployments. The capabilities of this tool are complemented by the implementation of Freezer (distributed backup restore and disaster recovery as a service platform).

Developers working on the latest version of OpenStack have spent considerable time reducing technology debt. The deprecated Block Storage API version 2 has been removed from Cinder. Furthermore, Cyborg offers a refactoring documentation structure that includes API documentation and guides for users and contributors. Horizon and all its plugins now support nodejs 14. Meanwhile, Neutron has added a new limit driver called DbQuotaNoLockDriver, and OpenStack-Ansible has added ceph-ansible 6.0 (Pacific) with an update to ansible-core 2.11.

OpenStack on the rise

It is no secret that the OpenStack project, which is now under the umbrella of the OpenInfra Foundation, has had its ups and downs. Recently, however, the platform has been on the rise. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, interest in OpenStack has clearly been growing. According to OpenInfra, the total number of cores managed by this platform has increased by as much as 66 percent over the past year. Mark Collier, COO of the OpenInfra Foundation, acknowledges that demand for OpenStack is being driven, among other things, by the hype around hyper-scalable public clouds. Last year saw the arrival of 10 million cores supported by the platform. There are seven organizations with over one million cores on the OpenStack user list.

The platform has been the apple of telecoms’ eye for many years now. Currently, nine out of ten major telecom operators use this software. Public cloud services built on OpenStack include OVH Public Cloud, Open Telekom Cloud, Rackspace Public Cloud, and CT Cloud Platform. However, the clear leader in China Mobile with 6 million cores supported by OpenStack. But users of the software also include companies outside the telco industry, such as Workday, Yahoo, and Walmart. Each is implementing OpenStack-based deployments with more than one million cores. IBM Bluemix Private Cloud and Canonica’s managed infrastructure products also use the platform.

Notably, Microsoft joined the OpenInfra Foundation as a platinum member a few weeks ago. This group includes companies with revenues of $350,000 per year and includes Ant Group, AT&T, Ericsson, Facebook, FiberHome, Huawei, Red Hat, Tencent Cloud, and Wind River. With its new functionalities and facilities, Xena has established the platform’s strong position in the segment of solutions for building public and private clouds. The next release of OpenStack, called Yoga, is expected to be available on the 30th. 03. 2022.

Learn more about OpenStack and how Storware will ensure data protection in these environments:

Paweł Mączka Photo

text written by:

Pawel Maczka, CTO at Storware