Last month SUSE released Cloud 2.0, the latest version of its OpenStack-based enterprise private cloud product. Notable new features include OpenStack Grizzly block storage and networking capabilities, a more robust installation process, better integration with SUSE's cloud application-building tools, and a preview of Ceph object storage integration. It also became the first OpenStack distribution to add support for Microsoft Hyper-V alongside the KVM and Xen hypervisors.
"Support for mixed hypervisor cloud environments allows enterprises to plan for the future, while maintaining previous investments." said Doug Jarvis, Cloud Solutions Marketing Manager at SUSE. "Mixed hypervisor support also benefits developers by providing the flexibility to perform testing and development on KVM and final testing and deployment on VMware―all within the same cloud."
In this Q&A Jarvis discusses how the open cloud has changed in the past year since SUSE's original enterprise cloud release; the advantage of SUSE Cloud 2.0; their decision to support Hyper-V; what's next for OpenStack; and SUSE's contributions to the project.
What’s changed in the understanding and implementation of open clouds since SUSE launched cloud 1.0 more than a year ago? How does 2.0 account for this change?
Enterprises have begun to identify specific requirements for their cloud environments. For instance, SUSE customers told us that they required support for multiple hypervisors either running individually or in mixed cloud environments. As part of SUSE Cloud 2.0,  we met this requirement by supporting KVM, Xen, and Hyper-V and offering a technical preview of integration with VMware ESXi environments.
OpenStack is another area in which we have seen evolution. For OpenStack to become more mainstream, installing, deploying, and managing an OpenStack-based cloud needs to get easier as enterprises are unwilling to invest the time and manpower in administering their own cloud. Based on our 20-year history with Linux and open source we recognized this need and developed an installation framework in SUSE Cloud 1.0. With version 2.0 we have added additional enhancements based on customers’ feedback to further streamline the process.
Finally, customers are beginning to demonstrate a desire for open clouds to address needs beyond the core Infrastructure-as-a-Service functionality. That is why the OpenStack community has started the Heat and Ceilometer  incubation projects to start to provide more consumable services.
What are some advantages of SUSE Cloud 2.0 for Linux system administrators and developers?
First and foremost, SUSE Cloud 2.0 provides enterprises with tremendous time-to-value for their investment in private cloud computing. The automated installation framework of SUSE Cloud significantly reduces set-up time and eases ongoing management of the cloud environment. Also, SUSE Cloud uses SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. That means that all of the applications and hardware certifications of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server are available in the cloud. This simplifies and speeds the transition to the cloud.
Second, support for mixed hypervisor cloud environments allows enterprises to plan for the future, while maintaining previous investments. Mixed hypervisor support also benefits developers by providing the flexibility to perform testing and development on KVM and final testing and deployment on VMware―all within the same cloud, using the same cloud management functionality.
Developers also benefit from the further integration between SUSE Cloud 2.0 and SUSE Studio. This integration delivers the freedom to build easily supported and maintained applications that can be deployed within the SUSE Cloud-based private cloud image repository or in public clouds such as Amazon EC2 or Microsoft Windows Azure. Also, it allows the system administrator and developer to work together by creating pre-determined golden OS images that can be patched and maintained in a self-service cloud environment. The developer benefits from the flexibility of the cloud while ensuring the administrator has control over the security and compliance of the system.
SUSE Cloud 2.0 includes support for Microsoft Hyper-V and an Amazon S3-compatible API. Why reach across the aisle, so to speak, to provide this compatibility?
Our enterprise customers do not deploy a homogenous, open source IT environment and want to continue to get the most out of their previous investments in hardware, software and skills. Additionally, they want as much choice as possible in determining how to meet their future IT requirements. Therefore, as a good partner, to meet customer needs today and tomorrow we provide as much interoperability as we can. SUSE has always taken this approach: we are not in the business of locking-in our customers to any one approach to computing.
What are the most rapidly changing pieces of the cloud architecture right now and how is SUSE innovating in that space? (storage? Networking? Etc.)
With the release of OpenStack Grizzly the biggest changes occurred in networking and storage. The move of the OpenStack Networking (Neutron) and OpenStack Block Storage (Cinder) out of incubation and into core OpenStack demonstrated the evolving maturity of the project to meet the needs of the industry. With SUSE Cloud 2.0, SUSE is working with partners such as Cisco, EMC, and NetApp to support their network and storage plug-ins and helping to promote broader acceptance of the plug-in model. SUSE believes that the plug-in model is ideal for leveraging current solutions and providing additional capabilities that enterprises require when deploying OpenStack-based private clouds.
Ease of deployment and management is also a rapidly changing part of the OpenStack landscape. SUSE is providing innovation here, and we are looking to take an even greater leadership role in this critical area in the coming months.
How is SUSE contributing to OpenStack?
SUSE is contributing to OpenStack in several ways. First, as an original platinum member of the OpenStack Foundation, SUSE provides legal, engineering, and ongoing financial support for the foundation. Additionally, Alan Clark, a SUSE employee and a member of the Linux Foundation board, is Chairman of the OpenStack Foundation Board of Directors.
Second, we provide upstream technical contributions to ensure the enterprise readiness of OpenStack. These contributions include security fixes and code hardening, as well as ensuring multi-hypervisor support by upgrading OpenStack support for Xen and working with Microsoft and Cloudbase to deliver full support for Microsoft Hyper-V. As mentioned earlier, SUSE is active in making OpenStack simpler and faster to install and easier to manage. To that end, we are a leading contributor to the open source Crowbar project , which helps to streamline the configuration, deployment, and use of OpenStack. The contributions we make as part of the Crowbar community are critical in helping make OpenStack enterprise ready.
Third, we actively promote the use of OpenStack. By delivering an enterprise OpenStack distribution, SUSE Cloud, SUSE helps foster enterprise adoption of OpenStack. We also promote OpenStack in the openSUSE community in order to broaden the base of OpenStack contributors and users across the wider open source ecosystem.
What additional progress do you expect to see with that project in the coming months?
While OpenStack advances in networking and block storage saw the biggest leap forward in the past year, we feel as though the Heat and Ceilometer projects will take the biggest leap in the coming months. The industry is beginning to look for higher level functionality and more consumable services in open clouds. In particular, people are starting to look for OpenStack to integrate additional services as part of the fundamental Infrastructure-as-a-Service capabilities, in other words, to evolve in a similar way to public clouds. These two incubation projects begin to move OpenStack towards this services-centric cloud model, and we expect this model to progress further in upcoming OpenStack releases.