OpenStack adds UI, virtual networks with ‘Diablo’

The OpenStack posse is putting some gloss on the next release of the  open-source cloud operating system.

A major goal of the newly available “Diablo” release, is to boost useability of the OpenStack by administrators and users with a new dashboard. Other improvements will enable the use of big, highly scalable networks, and new distributed scheduling for updating and synchronizing data, said Jonathan Bryce, co-founder of the Rackspace Cloud and chairman of the OpenStack Project Policy Board.

Totally new to OpenStack are:

  • OpenStack Dashboard – A self-service portal administrators can use to access and provision cloud-based resources.
  • OpenStack Keystone – A unified authentication service that runs across all OpenStack projects and which will integrate with legacy internal authentication systems including Active Directory  (AD) and Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) implementations.
  • OpenStack Quantum – An API that will dynamically request and configure virtual networks and supports extensions for advanced network capabilities.

“With this release, it was important to step back from features and focus on the user experience,” said Devin Carlen, founder and VP of engineering for Nebula, a startup dedicated to helping companies deploy OpenStack-based private clouds. Nebula played a key role in developing the new dashboard.

The availability of a dashboard to give on-premises IT people a better handle on what’s happening in their clouds  and could drive OpenStack adoption, Carlen said, adding that Amazon EC2 adoption soared after Amazon launched its monitoring dashboard called CloudWatch.

The Diablo release also includes improvements to the existing OpenStack Compute, Object Storage, and Image Service modules.

Rackspace (s RAX) and NASA launched OpenStack in July 2010 to build an open-source cloud OS on proven technologies. Despite some big-name glamor–Dell (s Dell), Cisco (s csco), Hewlett-Packard (s HPQ) and others have endorsed the effort–it’s unclear how well it will fare against established cloud offerings like Amazon Web Services (s AMZN) or against Microsoft’s (s MSFT) Windows Azure effort, which has also been backed by Dell and HP.

Analyst Jay Lyman of The 451 Group said OpenStack has gained credibility although it’s still too soon to tell if its adoption can match the hype around the effort. RackSpace knows scalability and many companies weighing a cloud move like to have options. Amazon Web Services adoption is huge but “most enterprises like to have a Plan B and OpenStack is emerging as Plan B, especially after recent Amazon outages,” he said.

OpenStack now claims more than 100 contributing companies and some big customers, including CERN and Walt Disney Co., which will speak on its use of the technology at the OpenStack Design Summit and Conference in Boston next month.