OpenStack’s 24th Release, Xena, wields powerful hardware support and project integration

The latest release occurs as the 2021 User Survey reveals significant growth in OpenStack deployments ranging from hundreds of cores to six million cores; Over 100 new OpenStack clouds have been built, growing the total number of cores under OpenStack management to more than 25,000,000 cores.

The OpenStack community has released Xena, the 24th version of the most widely deployed open source cloud infrastructure software. Highlights of the Xena release include support for new hardware features, improved integration among components, and reduction of technical debt to maintain OpenStack’s stable and reliable core.

OpenStack is one of the most active open source projects in the world, supported by a vibrant and engaged community of developers globally. Over the span of just 25 weeks, almost 15,000 changes authored by over 680 contributors from over 125 different organizations were included in the Xena release.

This release comes at a time when the OpenStack project is deployed in production more widely than ever. Over 100 new OpenStack clouds have been built in the past 18 months, growing the total number of cores under OpenStack management to more than 25,000,000 cores. Organizations with deployments ranging from hundreds of cores to six million cores have logged significant growth according to the 2021 OpenStack User Survey. The User Survey report will be made available ahead of the OpenInfra Live: Keynotes, November 17-18, where several of these production users will be sharing the details of their growing OpenStack use cases.

OpenStack pioneered the concept of open infrastructure 10 years ago and is now the open infrastructure-as-a-service standard. Recently, new workload demands like artificial intelligence, machine learning, edge computing and IoT have given rise to the project’s support for new chip architectures, automation at scale down to the bare metal, and integration with myriad open source components. OpenStack now powers more than 100 public cloud data centers and thousands of private clouds at a scale of more than 25 million compute cores. OpenStack is the one infrastructure platform for deployments of diverse architectures—bare metal, virtual machines (VMs), graphics processing units (GPUs) and containers.

Xena Release Highlights

The enhancements delivered in the Xena release underscore OpenStack’s highly flexible project integration capabilities. A key example is the integration of Cyborg, Neutron and Nova. In Xena, Nova merged a patch series that adds support for creating Nova servers with Neutron ports that are actually backed by PCI devices (SmartNICs) managed by Cyborg. This new feature provides the same user experience of offloading network-related workload to a PCI device, but proposes a different operator experience by offering use of an external management service (Cyborg) to ease the configuration. Additionally, Nova’s libvirt virt driver now supports any PCI devices, not just virtual GPUs, that are using the VFIO-mdev virtualization framework, such as network adapters or compute accelerators.

Xena delivers numerous other examples of integration among projects, including the following:

•Blazar has added OpenStackClient support to python-blazarclient, allowing users to interact with Blazar using OpenStack reservation commands, which provides users with a similar command-line interface as when interacting with other OpenStack projects.

•Glance has added support for unified quotas using Keystone limits.

•OpenStack-Ansible, the most popular deployment tool (selected by 47% of OpenStack User Survey respondents), has added a role for Freezer deployment.

•Manila has significantly increased feature parity between the manila-client shell utility and the unified OpenStackClient, enhancing usability of the Shared File Systems API.

Another prominent theme among Xena enhancements is support for advanced hardware features; Nova’s support for SmartNICs (as described above) leads a list of examples, including the following:

•In Cinder, many current backend storage drivers now have added support for features exceeding the required driver functions, such as multiattach and the ability to take advantage of backend optimizations.

•Ironic delivers substantial API improvements in node list retrieval performance, support for boot_mode and secure_boot state visibility on a bare metal node, as well as the capability to set these states as API actions.

•Production usage of Kolla among OpenStack User Survey respondents has increased from 17% in 2020 to 28% in 2021. In the Xena cycle, the Kolla team added integration with Hashicorp Vault for control plane secrets.

•In Neutron, ECMP routes are now supported. Multiple routes with the same destination address are now consolidated into a single ECMP route.

•In Manila, the NetApp driver has added support for petabyte scale file systems as well as support for “readable” replication of shares alongside “dr” (disaster recovery) style replication. Users can mount read-only copies of their shares provisioned across availability zones while still having read/write access to the primary share.

In addition, the Xena cycle was the occasion to buy back some technical debt accumulated during the previous releases of the platform. Notable examples include:

•Cinder: Cinder has removed the long-deprecated Block Storage API version 2.

•Cyborg: Cyborg offers refactoring documentation structure including API docs, user guide and contributor guide.

•Horizon: Horizon and all Horizon plugins now support nodejs14, which is the current LTS version of nodejs.

•Neutron: Neutron has added a new quota driver—DbQuotaNoLockDriver. This driver does not create a unique lock per (resource, project_id). Such locks could lead to a database deadlock state if the number of server requests exceeds the number of resolved resource creations.

•OpenStack-Ansible: OpenStack-Ansible now uses ceph-ansible 6.0 (Pacific), and the Ansible version has been updated to the ansible-core 2.11.

“Twenty-four releases in and we are still seeing a growing, vibrant, global community contributing to OpenStack,” said Kendall Nelson, upstream developer advocate for OpenStack at the OpenInfra Foundation. “The OpenStack community continues to rank among the most actively developed open source projects in the world, with over 130 changes merged per day on average. OpenStack Xena showcases how successful community collaboration keeps the software robust and efficient, drives innovation to support emerging use cases, and continually delivers interoperability across projects and platforms.”

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