Rackspace wolfs down own OpenStack dog food
Rackspace Hosting, the company that helped launch the open source OpenStack cloud controller in addition to NASA’s Ames Research Center two years ago, has finally become its own OpenStack Fanatic. Rackspace has now gone live with the Nova compute cloud controller and other elements of OpenStack behind its production Cloud Servers infrastructure cloud.
The day that Rackspace put OpenStack in production is the unofficial general availability date for the “Essex” release of OpenStack, and is seen because the signal that other service providers and commercial enterprises were awaiting – giving them the power to create true OpenStack clouds with Rackspace infrastructure.
Rackspace Hosting CTO John Engates
Rackspace didn’t flip the switch without notice when it all started moving from its own compute cloud controller, but rather eased into it. In the course of the process, Rackspace was learning how you can perform continuous integration of the constantly changing OpenStack code without dinging its reputation for “fanatical support”. The Essex code was released in mid-April, and because that point, in line with Rackspace’s CTO John Engates, Rackspace was running about two weeks behind the trunk within the OpenStack project with live code.
As El Reg previously reported, Rackspace have been testing OpenStack internally for 6 months before it released the Essex code in April, and began offering limited customers the facility to apply the Nova compute and turn object storage portions of OpenStack because the underpinnings of its respective Cloud Servers and Cloud Files services.
Up earlier, Cloud Files was in accordance with code that had its roots back into cloudy storage products that Rackspace developed in its Mosso subsidiary, starting back in 2006, and later mixed up with Jungle Disk, which Rackspace acquired in October 2008 . The Mosso and Jungle Disk code is on the heart of the Cloud Files service, which have been running for 2-and-a-half years now and which was contributed by Rackspace to the OpenStack project because the basis for the Switch object storage controller. The jump is therefore no big deal.
But there are some big differences between the former code behind Cloud Servers – which was in response to another acquisition Rackspace did at the same day it bought Jungle Disk, called Slicehost – and the present Nova compute controller, that is mostly derived from NASA’s homegrown code with slightly of Rackspace’s “Ozone” project and over two years of community contributions thrown in to change it. Slicehost built its own compute cloud controller and wrapped it across the open source Xen hypervisor. Engates tells El Reg that once Rackspace bought Slicehost and taken it inside for its Cloud Servers offering (formerly called Cloud Sites), it went with a commercial grade XenServer hypervisor from Citrix Systems. And incidentally, because it moves to the Nova controller, Rackspace is keeping the XenServer hypervisor.
“We do not see any reason emigrate away, and it makes for a less complicated transition,” says Engates.
This is significant for the 170,000 customers that Rackspace has for its Cloud Servers and Cloud Files services.
The some thing that Rackspace won’t do is force the immediate migration of cloudy infrastructure customers from the old code to the OpenStack code. Customers are patently going to be encouraged to make the move on their lonesome, and Engates concedes that Rackspace can’t “keep the old code around forever” and says that it’ll probably take from 12 to 18 months “before the last customers migrate.” It truly is very careful wording meant to convey voluntary marching, not forced.
Of course, new customers could be deployed on new physical servers running OpenStack by default. And incidentally, Rackspace has always been an enormous buyer of Opteron-based machines, and continues to do this with the underpinnings of the Cloud Services, both old and new, in accordance with Engates. Rackspace uses a mixture of Opteron machines from Dell and Hewlett-Packard or even builds its own sometimes to save lots of a couple of bucks. And lest you get the inaccurate idea, Rackspace buys numerous Intel-based servers, too, particularly for personal cloud customers who would like to have a VMware hypervisor underneath their server images or dedicated hosting customers who get to determine what they wish.
Customers using the older versions of Cloud Servers and Cloud Files must work with Rackspace in the event that they need to fan the flames of more instances under the old cloud – since it won’t happen by default. There will not be a forced march to OpenStack, but Rackspace says it doesn’t intend to make matters worse, either, by allowing customers to maneuver backwards.
In addition to rolling out OpenStack in production, Rackspace has also rejigged its pricing and packaging on Cloud Servers. First, the old entry server configuration – which had only 256MB of virtual memory and 10GB of disk and which cost 1.5 cents per hour – has joined the choir eternal. Engates says that it didn’t run Windows and didn’t really have enough oomph to run Linux thoroughly, either. The brand new low point is a 512MB virtual server with 20GB of disk, which has had a cost cut from 3 cents per hour all the way down to 2.2 cents per hour (that’s a 27 per cent price cut).
Rackspace has also lowered pricing on much fatter virtual machines with 15.5GB and 30GB of virtual memory, that are the most important two images it sells, by 6 per cent and 33 per cent respectively to get them more in line “with market conditions”. As with other providers, it costs extra money to fireside up a Windows server image than it does for a Linux server image.
Database service goes live, too
The Cloud Databases service that Rackspace put into beta back in April is now ready for high-time, says Engates. This database service is an extension of the Nova controller and takes the open source MySQL database and virtualizes inside an OpenVZ virtual private server rather than an entire-on XenServer virtual machine. This service was developed under Project Red Dwarf , and it doesn’t shard database tables and spread them around virty servers but rather is a customary master database node with multiple read slave nodes. To that end, the MySQL database service is back-ended with SAN storage to spice up performance. In early benchmarks last April, Rackspace was saying Cloud Databases offered somewhere between two to a few times the performance of alternative database services available at the cloud – including Amazon’s MySQL-derived Relational Data Service (RDS).
The Cloud Block Storage (block storage in response to the Lunr project) and Cloud Networks (in line with Project Quantum) services that were in beta in April are still not in production. Rackspace created Lunr as an extension to the Nova controller, and naturally Nicira, which created the Open vSwitch virtual switch and the NVP OpenFlow controller and which runs the Quantum part of OpenStack, was just eaten by server virtualization juggernaut VMware last week for $1.26bn. ®