How organisations can get started in OpenStack

Cloud engineers are still in short supply as the technology is still relatively new – but as adoption increases, the ability to specialise in the open-source software platform for cloud computing also grows.

There are a growing number of use cases in OpenStack. Telcos especially are getting very excited about OpenStack as NFV (network functions virtualisation) gives the ability to rapidly deploy virtualised appliances like routers and firewalls over software-defined networks, reducing the need for expensive proprietary hardware.

Financial organisations are also now at least dabbling in, and seriously considering, the use of OpenStack. That’s a real positive to note – typically, finance and IT doesn’t change quickly.

Mirantis announced just last month that it is working with Volkswagen to include OpenStack in its hybrid cloud strategy, and PayPal has implemented its own OpenStack cloud for almost 100% of its operations. Even NASA is harnessing the power of OpenStack.

>See also: Why closing the OpenStack skills gap is vital to private cloud deployments

Of course, you can’t talk about OpenStack without talking about the benefits it brings to high performance computing (HPC).

The biggest challenge in the academic environment, as the use of data analytics grows, is the challenge of HPC clusters meeting differing workloads.

Bioinformatics may require virtual machines with large amounts of RAM to meet the challenge of processing rich, biological datasets, compared with lots of much smaller parallel workloads you’d see in other scientific fields.

The use of OpenStack in HPC means organisations are not limited to one specific scheduler, meaning you can meet those challenges of differing workloads head-on using the same infrastructure.

Any large organisation looking to support its own private cloud should seriously consider looking at OpenStack.

OpenStack sits well as a private cloud – it goes to places where the likes of Amazon and other public cloud providers don’t want to go, deploying to and making use of specialised equipment such as GPU nodes and power PC architecture.

OpenStack isn’t for everyone

No matter what the benefits and opportunities that OpenStack provides, it’s important to understand that it isn’t necessarily for everyone.

For example, customers that are really happy with traditional compute infrastructure or SMEs are unlikely to see any major benefits of deploying OpenStack and unable to support a private cloud environment.

There are over 200 different OpenStack projects to pick and choose from, ranging from helping monitor and meter hardware, through to helping burst out into public cloud.

Fundamentally though, the question to be asked is, “What do I want from my cloud?”

As you add components to the overall IT infrastructure, the complexity increases and in the complex world of cloud computing this is never desirable.

But with the examples cited above, there are benefits for large organisations to support private cloud.

Getting the engineers

The challenge, though, is not one of deciding whether OpenStack is for you – the growing number of use cases is reason enough to make that decision.

The current challenge is one of actually deploying, managing and maintaining the infrastructure. Dedicated cloud engineers are in short supply.

>See also: Five years open: the trials and tribulations of OpenStack

So how do you go about getting your very own cloud engineer? There are three routes to explore.

The first is that you pay through the nose and poach the top talent, the second is to take an experienced IT professional and train them up in OpenStack and other cloud-related fields, or the final option is to look to a third-party to provide the expertise.

In reality, if you’re serious about OpenStack, you’ll need someone internally that can run and manage the cloud system – but to get it up and running, the easiest route is to look to a systems integrator who can work alongside your team.

Cloud engineering is an interesting and varied role, something you can really get your teeth stuck into. This is because OpenStack touches all aspects of the operating system – CPU, storage and networking. It then layers more complexity on top of that with virtualisation. And a cloud engineer needs to know every aspect.


Sourced from Christopher Brown, OpenStack engineer, OCF

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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