Top New Networking Features in CloudStack 4.0 Release

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This week CloudStack 4.0 released its first code since Citrix turned the project over to the Apache Foundation in April. The release brings CloudStack one step closer to graduating from incubation to a top level Apache project.

CloudStack 4.0 also brings an array of new features, though the open source cloud computing platform has been largely focused on legal documentation and code review.

CloudStack logoThe first noticeable change is Amazon EC2 and S3 integration. But the most anticipated additions are key networking functions similar to those in OpenStack’s recent Folsom release with the integration of the Quantum project.

That the CloudStack release would mirror its rival open source Infrastructure-as-a-Service platform shouldn’t be a surprise considering that the projects are looking to solve similar problems in software-defined networking, said David Nalley, an Apache CloudStack developer at Citrix. Both projects also employ developers from Nicira (now part of VMware), the originator of Quantum, he said.

“It’s in everyone’s best interest to work with the next generation networking technology,” said Chip Childers, an engineer at Sungard Availability Services and a CloudStack committer. “The specifics about how each software package deals with network topology design and automation isn’t as important as getting it in and integrated.”

Top New Networking Features

Two of the top features in CloudStack 4.0 were already integrated into Citrix’s commercial cloud but hadn’t yet made their way into the upstream open source version, Childers said:

  1. Virtual private cloud (VPC)-style functionality allows the creation of more complex networks of virtual environments using multiple VLANs. It allows users to create multiple isolated networks instead of having everything on a single network, allowing for multi-tier applications with various levels of access. 

“It’s modeled after Amazon, but its use case is driven toward customers that like tiering of their applications,” Childers said.

2. Integration with Nicira’s Network Virtualization Platform (NVP) product provides inter-VLAN routing. 

“Traditional network virtualization is becoming much more intelligent,” Childers said. “Interacting with new networking controllers is important for scaling user experience in a way that doesn’t strain resources.”

Prepping for CloudStack 4.1

Looking forward to a 4.1 release, Citrix’s Nalley says there are plenty of ways to get involved in the project. Once 4.0 is out, the community can choose which features it will focus on next. And many proposals have already been submitted in anticipation of the CloudStack Collaboration Conference in Las Vegas, Nov. 30 – Dec. 2.

“The important thing is we continue to march on and add functionality and features,” Nalley said.

As the project matures and reaches top-level status at the Apache Foundation, Childers also hopes to accelerate the pace of integration with other technologies into 4.1.

“I’m looking forward to working with others in the community to see what kind of internal re-factoring we need to do for new technologies to be integrated and support projects that want tighter integration,” he said.