OpenStack: Just the APIs Please

By | April 10, 2014

I recently attended a Mirantis webinar on integrating OpenStack with VMware, and before I attended, I thought to myself, “why would you ever?”. Why would you ever deploy an open source cloud to manage an expensive hypervisor? During the webinar, it became clear to me. Now, I’m thinking “Why wouldn’t you?”.

Sure, running VMware costs money, while the defacto open source hypervisor deployed with OpenStack (KVM) is free. You could argue that KVM is every bit as good as VMware, but many organizations have invested a lot of time and money to build and maintain their VMware-based virtual infrastructure and associated skill sets. VMware’s enterprise-class high availability, network, storage and backup integration features are widely adopted and loved by many organizations who would be loath to replace them with an open source alternative.

So if your company has made the decision to continue to spend money on VMware licenses, why deploy OpenStack? To achieve infrastructure orchestration.

In the world before private cloud, we’ve lived with individually managed infrastructure silos. To deploy an application, you’d have to engage a bunch of different teams to get things done: the network team would log into the switches and routers to provision a VLAN, the storage team would provision a LUN, the server team would build you a server, the security team might poke you a hole in the firewall, add you a VIP on the load-balancer…

The cloud offers the ability do all of these things through a common web portal, through a common API, which means that these steps can be easily (relatively speaking) orchestrated.  Rather than writing to the proprietary API’s of each individual infrastructure component, you write to the cloud API, and it makes the translations for you.

VMware does offer tools that can do this, in the vCloud Suite which includes vCloud Automation Center. vCAC allows you to write those proprietary API calls to make your infrastructure dance. It’s a great tool, and you can build a world-class private cloud using a pure VMware product suite.

The differentiator with OpenStack is the engagement by the vendor community. It seems like most of the infrastructure vendors are busy delivering plug-ins for OpenStack, including VMware themselves.  The result will be that organizations who want to use their enterprise-class infrastructure can make OpenStack call out to their Cisco gear to provision networking, call out to their EMC storage arrays to provision storage, and call out to their VMware infrastructure to deploy VMs.

You’ll still be able to do it on the cheap, deploy the full OpenStack with its free hypervisor and software-based networking and storage services, but if you want to use your trusted world-class infrastructure, you can simply use OpenStack as the API layer that glues it all together. The infrastructure vendors are all hurrying to get their plug-ins ready.

I think that as the suite of plug-ins grows to include most of the common infrastructure in use today, we’ll see enterprise adoption of OpenStack increase. The enterprise wants OpenStack, but they also want to continue to use their enterprise-class infrastructure.  Just the APIs please.

You can view the Mirantis OpenStack-VMware webinar here.

One thought on “OpenStack: Just the APIs Please

  1. Cloud Insider

    If you keep the VMware infrastructure, then what is the added value Open Stack would provide? VMware provides much of the same glue APIs. Imo either you go Open Stack (with KVM), else just stay with your existing VMware environment.

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