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Virtualization

5 Things I Learned at OpenStack Summit Boston 2017

Randy Levensalor
Lead Architect, Wired Technologies

May 23, 2017

Recently, I attended OpenStack Summit in Boston with more than 5,000 other IT business leaders, cloud operators and developers from around the world. OpenStack is the leading open source software run by enterprises and public cloud providers and is increasingly being used by service providers for their NFV infrastructure. Many of the attendees are operators and vendors who collaboratively develop the platform to meet an ever-expanding set of use cases.

With over 750 sessions, it was impossible to see them all. Here are my top five takeaways and highlights of the event:

1. Edward Snowden's Opinions on Security and Open Source

In the biggest surprise of the event, Edward Snowden, former US NSA employee and self-declared liberator, joined us over a live video feed from an undisclosed location. He talked about the ethics and importance of the open source movement and how open source can be used to improve security and privacy.

Unlike vulnerabilities in proprietary software, those in open source are transparent. As a result, the entire community can learn from these exploits and how to prevent them in the future. Though not mentioned by Snowden, his rhetoric brought to mind the work done to secure OpenSSL after the heart bleed vulnerability was made public. This changed the way that core projects are managed. Snowden mentioned Apple’s iPhone as an example where vulnerabilities were found and the solution was not transparent:

“When Apple or Google has a bug, not only can we have no influence over the cure, but we don’t know anything about the cause and we don’t know what they have learned in effecting a cure. So, it’s not possible for everyone to use that knowledge to help build a better world for everyone.”

His talk brought applause from the audience and was a call to action as much as it was informative.

2. OpenStack is Helping Make the World Safer

The U.S. Army is using OpenStack to rapidly deliver the required curriculum for cyber command training and saving millions of dollars in the process. Using software development as an example, they created an agile development process where the instructors can improve the course rapidly and presented an example of their deployment of different virtual machines with malware and threat detection software. Instructors are able to create new content by submitting code to a source code repository and have it approved in less than a day. The new content is also available to graduates of the course in support of ongoing training. As a taxpayer, I can only hope that the other branches of the military will follow the Army’s lead in delivering the same innovative philosophy and process. These processes employed by the Army can be leveraged by service provides to deliver new services, apply security patches, and remedy service disruptions.

You can watch the keynote here and the in-depth talk below:

3. Lightweight OpenStack Control Planes for Edge Computing

OpenStack was designed to run large clouds managing thousands of servers in traditional data centers. Running OpenStack on a single local server allows service and OTT providers to manage CPEs using the same toolchain for managing VMs in their hosted cloud solutions.

Verizon’s keynote highlighting their uCPE is available here.

4. Aligning Container and Virtual Machine Technologies

My favorite forum session was a discussion to align VMs and containers. Containers address the application configuration and management challenges that are not as easily addressed with virtual machines. OpenStack can be used to manage the dependencies that containers need to run. In addition to the general summit proceeding, OpenStack has a forum format. You can learn more about the format here.

Leaders from both the OpenStack Nova team and the Linux Foundation’s Kubernetes were on the panel. Kubernetes performs many complementary and some overlapping tasks as OpenStack. Because Kubernetes was developed several years after Nova, they improved on some of the similar features.

CableLabs hosted an OpenStack Users Group meeting recently on the same subject called "OpenStack & Containers: Better Together".

5. Data Plane Acceleration 

With the growth of OpenStack in the service provider space, the focus to move packets from point A to point B is as critical as ever. Open vSwitch continues to be a popular choice, and with the addition of DPDK support, they are reducing the latency involved with process packets in a virtualized network. Tapio Tallgren, the chair of OPNFV’s Technical Steering Committee, provides some results of testing DPDK with OPNFV. As many of you may know, CableLabs SNAPS project leverages OPNFV as a foundation. The Yardstick performance testing project, which Tapio discusses in his blog post Snaps-OO Open Sourced Collaborative Development Resource, is in the process of migrating many of their scenarios to leverage our SNAPS-OO utility.

FD.io is the newest player for accelerating the data plane. Their testing results in the lab are remarkable, and we are beginning to see some adoption for use in production. There was even a 1-day training session dedicated solely to FD.io.

 

With demos, product launches, and informative talks, OpenStack Summit Boston 2017 was a huge success. I hope to see you at the next one! If you have any questions about OpenStack don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.

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