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Cloud Computing, OpenStack*, and Intel

Author: 
Sue Clark
Cloud Computing with Openstack and Intel

Cloud Computing, OpenStack*, and Intel by Don Dugger

Cloud computing

The cloud is a very hot topic in computing today but, unfortunately, because there isn’t much agreement even on what cloud computing truly is, it winds up being many different things to many different people. Fortunately, it’s easy to cut through the buzz word clutter and focus on three simple concepts that make up the basis of any cloud offering:

  • Client/server. All clouds consist of a set of clients that initiate requests and a set of servers that process those requests.
  • Network delivery. Given that there are a separate set of clients and servers, they need to talk together, so a network to provide that connection is essential.
  • Metered service. The ability to measure how many resources are being consumed by a client is essential for charging in a public cloud where people pay for access, and for capacity planning in a private cloud, where clients and servers might be paid for by different departments in a company.

 Cloud Systems

There are three main types of cloud systems: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS).

  • Infrastructure as a Service is the most basic form of cloud. The cloud provider offers a basic machine (typically a virtualized machine) with storage and network access, then the application provider installs a complete operating system and set of applications on that machine. In an IaaS, the application provider is responsible for almost all software from the operating system, through and including the entire application. Amazon’s* Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) is an example of an IaaS.
  • Platform as a Service goes one step up and provides a complete application environment, including the operating system. In a PaaS environment, the application provider only has to provide the application. The runtime environment for that application is provided by the service provider. AppEngine from Google* is a PaaS that is available today.
  • Software as a Service provides only the application to the client. Distinguishing between PaaS and SaaS is a little tricky because they provide pretty much the same thing – access to an application. The difference is that, for SaaS, the same entity is acting as service provider and application provider, while for PaaS, those roles are handled by different entities.

OpenStack overview

Having defined a cloud, we can now look at OpenStack*, an open source IaaS project. Note that OpenStack is more a collection of different technologies rather than a single, monolithic project. The components are separate, but are well integrated to work together.

The seven major components are:

  1. Nova – provides computing services
  2. Neutron – provides network connectivity[1]
  3. Cinder – provides persistent volume storage
  4. Swift – provides object storage
  5. Glance – provides image storage
  6. Horizon – provides an administrative GUI
  7. Keystone – provides an authentication service
  8. All of these components are linked together as shown in the diagram below.

Note that this diagram has been slightly simplified. Given that Horizon (the GUI) needs to control all components in the system there should be lines between Horizon and all the other blocks in the diagram. Similarly, Keystone (the authentication services) needs to validate all components so it should have lines to all other blocks. Adding in those connections makes the diagram too confusing so we’ll just accept that those phantom lines exist.


[1] The Neutron project used to be called Quantum until trademark issues forced a name change.

 

 

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