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Ubuntu Lab Tests OpenStack Interoperability

Canonical's new OpenStack Interoperability Lab will validate software and hardware from Cisco, EMC, Intel, Juniper and other partners.

Canonical's new OpenStack Interoperability Lab (OIL) aims to give organizations assurance that Ubuntu OpenStack will play well with a variety of hardware and software.

OIL will test all new OpenStack hypervisors and software-defined networking (SDN) stacks, as well conventional OpenStack technologies, to make sure Ubuntu OpenStack offers a wide array of validated and supported technology options. Canonical leads development of Ubuntu.

OIL has already recruited a number of high-profile partners, including Cisco, Dell, EMC, HP, Juniper and VMware. Ubuntu and VMware announced in the spring they would collaborate to help organizations to deploy VMware software and technologies, including the plugins needed to work with vSphere.

At first blush, OIL looks as though it will primarily benefit Ubuntu, but Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT, said partners and end users will also see value from the work being done by OIL. “It’s highly beneficial for Ubuntu to take some of the weight and certify how well their products are working on one hardware system or another," he said.

King noted there’s no one-size-fits-all cloud as needs and expectations can vary widely from customer to customer depending on the workloads involved -- whether they're basic or performance-sensitive and require a high level of memory and IOPs.

[Read about Brocade's proposal for a network management layer for OpenStack in "Brocade Pitches OpenStack Management Layer."]

Mark Baker, Ubuntu's Server and Cloud Product Manager, said the idea of the lab was initially conceived at the beginning of the year due to OpenStack's rapid traction and customer feedback. Customers are picky about their technology choices, usually due to their internal standardization efforts or because they are protecting existing investments in technology, he said. Security and availability requirements also drive their choices.

Ubuntu is more likely to be able to meet customer requirements if its OpenStack distribution has proven interoperability with commonly substituted modules, such as a particular hypervisor, for example. OIL allows the company to test and validate the different software and hardware organizations are likely to use in their cloud deployments.

Other vendors are offering designs that validate a combination of compute, storage and networking either to support specific workloads or help enterprises to consolidate, simplify and automate their data centers. These converged systems, such as FlexPod from Cisco and NetApp, are designed to make integration easier.

King said converged systems tested for specific workloads pay good dividends, but ultimately, internal resources and long-term goals of the IT organization should guide how enterprises build out their cloud infrastructure. He said it wouldn’t surprise him if some of OIL’s partners began offering systems optimized for Ubuntu.

OIL is indicative of how cloud, particularly public cloud and Platform-as-a-Service, is gaining momentum, King said. “Vendors of pretty much every stripe are going to have to figure out what they bring to the table and what they can offer their customers and partners," he said.

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