“Keeping It Dirty”

I’ve lived in Durham, North Carolina since 1999 — I love it here, and I’ve finally found home. It’s been recognized as Tastiest Town, a Different Kind of Silicon Valley and one of the Best Places to Live. But it wasn’t always like that. Durham rose up from the ashes of failed tobacco and textile industries to a modern hub of medicine, research, and high-tech firms. Despite Durham’s rise over the past 10 years, non-Durhamites around the Research Triangle remember the Durham of old and are skeptical of it’s newfound success and reputation as a progressive yet gritty town.

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 12.04.10 PM

The parallels between the rise of Durham’s revitalization and OpenStack’s popularity are uncanny. You still hear the following comments today:

“Why do you live in Durham, are you crazy?”
“How can you trust OpenStack community developers and run it in production?”

Enterprises continue to be skeptical of OpenStack’s production worthiness, but many companies are betting their businesses on this project. DreamHost, a Cumulus Linux customer, has been running a state-of-the-art OpenStack deployment for over two years. They automate their entire data center with Chef, leveraging Infrastructure as Code principles. Many others use standard DevOps tools such as Ansible, Puppet, Salt, Git, Jenkins or Gerrit, and to help achieve NetDevOps efficiencies in their IT infrastructure.

The Rise of OpenStack

I’ve watched the OpenStack project grow ever since its Essex release in 2012 — a milestone that included the important debut of the Horizon GUI dashboard project.

Eight versions and a dozen new major projects later, momentum for OpenStack has never been greater; the latest survey by OpenStack.org shows substantial year-to-year growth of deployment into production, as you can see here:

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 2.46.20 PM

Working at enterprise-focused Linux companies for 13 years, I’ve been most interested in product advances, general ease of use and the customer experience. Through my Cumulus Networks eyes, it’s the rapid development and enhancements in Neutron networking that have been most impressive. Cloud administrators that have traditionally been Linux system administrators are now being tasked to own the entire stack, from the servers to the network. Neutron networking continues to be one of the most important microservices in the OpenStack family. We get asked the following questions frequently, for example,

  • Should I use OVS? Or Linux bridge? Why?
  • Should I separate my tenants using layer 2 VLANs or layer 3 VXLAN?
  • What are the big Web IT companies doing that’s available to me today?

Imagine your OpenStack network is just a plug and play. No VLANs, no IP address bookkeeping required. That’s exactly what you get with a Cumulus Linux network coupled with OpenStack. Regardless, there is still no shortage of ways to design a networking solution for OpenStack. Network designs and topologies vary widely in OpenStack environments, making it difficult to standardize deployments from customer to customer. Traditional network engineers and system administrators can keep their organizational silos if required, but having “Just Linux” in the network switches and compute servers allows for better integration and a common ground for operational efficiencies at the very least.

Linux All the Way Down

It’s getting better — much better, and Cumulus Networks is leading the charge. The benefits of using Cumulus Linux for the OpenStack network include the following:

It’s impossible to deny that the future of networking is going the way of how today’s large Web IT companies build their data centers. They realized that openness, choice and full control are requirements that were non-negotiable for servers and switches. These attributes are now available to everyone, and the ability to easily scale out through standard Linux DevOps tools is now considered the norm (and expected).

Many people categorize OpenStack as a “dream waiting to happen” — but will the Mitaka release propel the project from uncertainty towards mainstream? It’s too soon to tell, but what is certain is that OpenStack’s community momentum is showing. The skeptics continue to perpetuate claims that they know are no longer true despite all evidence to the contrary. It’s a similar story for my Durham, but I see true greatness in the future for both.

OpenStack Summit Austin 2016

If you’re interested in seeing Cumulus Networks and OpenStack in action, we’ve created a demo that anyone can download to their laptop locally to try out (VirtualBox required).

Download here!

If you’re attending OpenStack Summit Austin 2016, swing by our booth and check out all our speaking sessions, demos, and parties we’ll be hosting.

Check out the sessions here.

Tell them Andrius from Durham sent you!


P.S: Photo Credits- Durham It’s Not for Everyone: piquantphotography.com via Pinterest