OpenStack users identify upgrades as ‘pain point’

Members of the OpenStack community have identified software upgrades as a major ‘pain point’, with cutting downtime top of the agenda as the open source cloud platform continues to mature.

Ruchi Bhargava, IT hybrid cloud product owner at Intel, said that, as OpenStack prepares for its next release, dubbed Kilo, some customers are stuck on older versions of the software.

“Many are probably still on Havana - with maybe some on Grizzly - as you want to do upgrades without bringing downtime to the tenants,” Bhargava told delegates at the OpenStack Summit in Paris, adding that integrating legacy hardware into OpenStack is another challenge for enterprises.

Mats Karlsson, Ericsson AB’s VP for architecture agreed that moving to newer release is creating problems for users: “A lot of operators are stuck on Havana because they can’t do an upgrade. Getting automatic backup and restore and all these things into place is key, because when we are deploying telecom workloads, so this is a service that requires five nines availability and that includes planned downtime.

“We need to have rolling releases to be in place because we can’t afford to take down systems.”

Meanwhile, BMW data centre infrastructure manager, Dr Stefan Lenz, said that the priority for future development should centre around improving software stability, rather than functionality. “The thing that bothers us most with OpenStack at the moment is the release cycles, and the huge changes we have from release to release."

He added: “If you are developers then I want to give you one message - [for] industry grade, we need more stability in the future, though it doesn’t prevent from using it now as it is.”

Responding to some of the discussions around down-time, OpenStack chief operating officer Mark Collier told press that the organisation was aware of the challenges caused by its release schedule challenges, and was working to make upgrades less disruptive.

“One of the key reasons why the speed has been frustrating is because the upgrades are hard. [People ask themselves] do I really want the feature, or do I stick with the version I have because of the pain of the upgrade process?” said Collier.

“As we are making the upgrades easier - with no down-time, and addressing the pain of having to upgrade - then wanting to upgrade more often won’t be as big a trade off. We are kind of attacking the problem at both layers, but the questions are always open on the table - is every six months the right answer? Is there a different method?"

Also on the agenda was the difficulties that many users continue to experience with recruitmet of staff to help deploy the cloud management tools.

Meanwhile, Mark McLoughlin, Red Hat’s OpenStack technical director, welcomed the openness of the community in addressing key issues as the software platform continues to mature - both in terms of adding functionality and enhancing existing features.

“We are in the early days of OpenStack, so pain points are not something we should be afraid of talking about - we are here together and we are keen to make it work,” said McLoughlin.

“We talk about features versus working on the core aspects. I celebrate both - the community is growing here, some people want to work on expanding OpenStack and its features, but there is still a very strong core of people who want to improve the core."

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

8 highly useful Slack bots for teams