If the theme in Austin was that OpenStack is ‘production ready’, then the theme in Barcelona was all about containers. Every session with even a hint of container technology was well-attended. There is definitely a lot of activity in the OpenStack ecosystem to integrate containers; deploying applications as well as core OpenStack services as containers, both under and over the cloud.
OpenStack is just one technology used to deploy Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), and most commonly for private clouds. More broadly, there is a lot of discussion surrounding Mode 1 and Mode 2 as it pertains to Bimodal IT defined by Gartner. Whether or not you agree with the tenants of that model, what cannot be denied is the rapid growth of containers and their use in the delivery of micro-service architecture applications designed for cloud environments. This new breed of applications continues to drive adoption of Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) technology.
The concepts of IaaS and PaaS appear to be here to stay. What is not settled is the number of deployment models embraced by the community. IaaS and PaaS can be stacked to enable both Mode 1 and Mode 2 applications. Or either one could be deployed individually based on the needs of a company or application.
Just when OpenStack self-declared ‘production ready’ status for traditional VM workloads (“lift-and-shift”), along comes a new architectural model. This is good to the extent that it forces evolution within OpenStack. But it also introduces a challenge to the scope of OpenStack (there are a LOT of active projects) as well as its relevance in the new data center. Will the big tent continue to expand with new services? Will it narrow in scope and push projects outside the big tent, to be deployed as over-the-top applications via containers? The reality will likely fall somewhere in the middle.
The key is to meet the needs of customers vis-à-vis application developers by deploying application services wherever and however necessary. It will most likely never become an OpenStack OR Containers decision, but rather an AND of both technologies. In any of the possible scenarios, application services will remain vitally important for both North-South and East-West traffic flow within the data center.
So what does this mean for F5?
F5 must continue to deploy advanced application services both under and over the cloud. We must be able to extend advanced services to an application regardless of its origin; hardware, VM, or container. The mix of services at each point may differ, but customers will benefit from access to strategic control points that enable visibility and management of applications.
Past our established interest in Neutron and Heat, F5 is following 3 key projects that focus on containers. Magnum now aims to deploy a Kubernetes cloud on top of OpenStack. Kolla is focused on deploying OpenStack services via containers. Lastly, Kuryr bridges the gap of tying container-based applications to neutron ports thereby enabling traditional OpenStack network functionality for containers.