OpenStack Releases New Version “Essex” Marked By Greater Integration and Plug-In Functionality

Just when OpenStack appeared to have been pummeled by the dual announcements of the Amazon Web Services-Eucalyptus deal and Citrix’s decision to open source CloudStack to the Apache Software Foundation, the world’s largest open source cloud computing collaboration announced its fifth release, named Essex. Key features of the Essex release include the integration of OpenStack Dashboard and OpenStack Identity into OpenStack for the first time. Additionally, OpenStack Compute now integrates with the popular cloud storage solution NetApp. Highlights of the Essex release across all of OpenStack’s core components include:

OpenStack Compute: Greater parity across hypervisors, enhanced support for high performance computing and the ability to integrate with cloud storage options such as NetApp, Nexenta and SolidFire.
OpenStack Object Storage: Enhancements to privacy and security features in order to guard against data breaches and data corruption.
OpenStack Dashboard (new): A management console that enables administrators to provision and automate the operation of cloud resources.
OpenStack Identity (new): A unified authentication system that authorizes multiple log-in credentials.
OpenStack Image Service: Updates to the protection of virtual images and enhanced ease of use for virtual images.

The Essex release also incubated Project Quantum, which delivers an infrastructure for automating networking tasks within a data center. Quantum is expected to be incorporated into OpenStack’s Folsome release in the fall of 2012. In total, Essex features roughly 150 new features resulting from the collaborative work of 200 developers from 55 companies. Proponents of OpenStack claim that the Essex release is notable for its tight integration of different components as well as the maturation of plug-in functionality that makes it easier to work with third party products and services. Rackspace co-founder and Chair of the OpenStack Project Policy Board summed up the enhancements to OpenStack by noting: “When you put it all together, this is really getting to the point where we have a complete cloud OS that you can use to manage compute, storage and networking and manage it all through a Web-based interface and have all the components integrated.”

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