Stacking up on OpenStack: A Beginner’s Guide
October 25, 2021
Heard of OpenStack but not sure what it actually is? You’ve come to the right place, O student of modern technology, for this blog holds all the knowledge you thirst for.
What is OpenStack?
OpenStack is a self-contained set of open-source software tools and modules that provides a framework to create and manage public, private, or hybrid cloud infrastructural resources.It basically acts as an IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-service), wherein it pools, provisions for, and manages large volumes of computational, storage, and networking resources. All such resources, including virtual machines (VMs), bare-metal hardware, and containers, are managed through APIs as well as the dashboard. Businesses can deploy OpenStack on-premises (in the data center to build a private cloud & cloud management), in the cloud to enable or drive public cloud platforms, and at the network edge for distributed computing systems.
The most significant feature is its open-source nature. This not only means that anybody with access to the source code can modify, customize and distribute it within the community to suit specific needs, but also ensures that thousands of developers, the world over, are constantly upgrading the core software in tandem, to suit the security scenario of the day, thus making it one of the most robust and secure platforms in the market currently.
How is OpenStack used in Cloud computing?
In essence, Cloud computing encompasses quite a few different things, but the IT industry’s focus at the moment is operating software, platforms, and infra “as a service”, which forms the core philosophy of IaaS. OpenStack obviously, can be counted in the latter category. In terms of providing infrastructure, OpenStack makes it easier to quickly add new instances, which in turn, can support other cloud components. The infrastructure, hence provided, acts as a “platform” on which any engineer can develop software applications that can be subsequently provided to the end-users.
What are the major OpenStack components?
OpenStack being completely open-source, lets anybody add additional components to customize OpenStack according to their needs. But the community has collaboratively identified a few key components which form the “core” of OpenStack. These pieces of code are distributed as integral parts of all OpenStack systems and are officially maintained by the community itself.
- Nova is OpenStack’s principal computing engine. Nova can deploy and manage a large number of VMs and related instances to handle different computing tasks simultaneously.
- Swift is the storage backbone of OpenStack. Instead of the traditional idea of referring to files by their location on a drive, software developers can refer to a unique identifier pertaining to a particular file, and leave it to the system to decide where it would be convenient to store this information. This leads to easier scaling, since developers need not concern themselves about the capacity of the storage system behind the software, while also ensuring that the onus of backing the data up lies automatically with the system rather than the developer.
- Cinder is the block storage component of OpenStack. It is analogous to the more traditional idea of a computer accessing specific locations on a drive to retrieve information. Cinder is suited for scenarios where the speed of accessing data is the paramount consideration in decision making.
- Neutron is the networking backbone for OpenStack. It helps to provide seamless and efficient communication between the various components.
- Horizon is the dashboard for OpenStack. As the primary graphical interface, it is the first component that a user will interact with. Horizon also provides system administrators easy access to see and manage the goings-on in the cloud, without having to route through the backend.
- Keystone is the identity services component for OpenStack. It is basically a centrally managed list of all users on the cloud, mapped against all the services on the cloud and the permissions provided for using them. Keystone is also responsible for providing multiple means of access to these services.
- Glance is the image services component for OpenStack. These images (basically virtual copies of hard disks) can be used as templates for deploying new instances of VMs.
- Ceilometer acts as the telemetry services component. Ceilometer maintains a metered count of each user’s usage statistics and helps in providing billing services based on these records.
- Heat is the orchestration component in OpenStack, which allows software developers to store all resource requirements of a cloud application in a file. This helps in smooth management of the cloud infrastructure.
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