OpenStack releases Folsom with heavy dose of virtual networking

The sixth and latest version of OpenStack software, code named Folsom is generally available today with new support for next-generation software-defined networking (SDN) baked in as a core component.

OpenStack backers say Folsom continues to improve the usability and stability of the existing code and includes 185 new features to the project, most notably in virtual networking. It also comes off the heels of OpenStack backer Rackspace ceding control of the project to a newly formed OpenStack Foundation, meaning the project is now controlled by a 24-member board of directors.

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The networking focus in Folsom is codified in the advancement of Quantum, which is the name of the virtual networking project within OpenStack, from an incubator project in the last Essex release to now a full-fledged core project in Folsom. Led by a developer at Nicira - which was recently acquired by VMware - Quantum supports a series of virtual network plugins, including Open vSwitch, the Ryu open source networking OS, as well commercial plugins from vendors such as Cisco and Nicira. That means OpenStack-powered clouds based on Folsom can take advantage of SDN-like virtual networking qualities.

In an interview with Network World, Vice Chairman of the OpenStack Foundation Lew Tucker, who is also Cisco's vice president and CTO of cloud computing, said Quantum and virtual networking was the missing link in the OpenStack code after the compute and storage portions have been built up during the past two and a half years since the project launched.

Other features improved in the Folsom release include advancements in the compute project, named Nova, related to being able to more easily configure network drives and being able to store network configuration information in memory. The storage project, named Swift, has additional functionality in Folsom around being able to connect the storage system to monitoring services that can produce metrics around usage and outages. Folsom includes another new core project with the addition of Cinder to the code, which is a volume block storage feature that was originally part of the Nova compute project but has been broken out as its own feature in Folsom now. The dashboard feature, named Horizon, also saw improvements around launching compute instances and working in the storage resources, while adding the ability to upload images into the dashboard and providing better cross-browser support.

The Folsom release comes at a time of increased interest in the OpenStack project as new companies continue to jump on the bandwagon. VMware, somewhat controversially, is the latest company to join OpenStack. Even with the newly formed foundation and new companies joining, Rackspace's fingerprints are still all over the project.

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A review of contributors to Folsom by the blog Bitregia found that Rackspace was the dominant contributor of code. Developers from the cloud computing company committed more than 825 lines of code, or 25% of the new contributions to the project, with Red Hat (708), and Nebula (334) being the next highest contributing companies. Nova and Quantum were the two areas of the code that received the most new contributions, Bitregia found. Overall, OpenStack officials say Folsom has a 65% increase in contributors from the previous release. The software, they say, has been downloaded 300,000 times.

OpenStack enthusiasts are set to meet in mid-October in San Diego to road map future versions of the code at the organization's semi-annual OpenStack Summit.

Network World staff writer Brandon Butler covers cloud computing and social collaboration. He can be reached at BButler@nww.com and found on Twitter at @BButlerNWW.

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