Astara Aims to Simplify OpenStack Networking

Welcome to the Big Tent, Project Astara. Formerly known as Akanda, Astara—an open source network orchestration platform—is now an official OpenStack Project. And Akanda, the company that developed Astara, will offer commercial subscriptions and enterprise support to customers and partners.

“While agility translates well into service creation and delivery in most IaaS and PaaS scenarios, there is still no easy answer for agile creation and management of network services in clouds,” Henrik Rosendahl, CEO of Akanda, wrote on the Akanda blog.

The company describes Astara as a simple, compatible, open source solution for network virtualization, designed for OpenStack from the beginning. “Astara is layer 2 agnostic and designed to work with your existing network, not replace it,” wrote Mark McClain on the Akanda blog.

Astara uses the Neutron API to orchestrate logical resources, and supports orchestrating a mix of Layer-3 through 7 network functions via bare metal, VMs and containers from within a single service, according to the company’s release. It takes the place of “many of the agents that OpenStack Neutron communicates with (L3, DHCP, LBaaS, FWaaS)  and acts as a single control point for all networking services,” wrote McClain.“By removing the complexity of extra agents Astara can centrally manage DHCP and L3, orchestrate load balancing and VPN Services and overall reduce the number of components required to build, manage and monitor complete virtual networks within your cloud.”

Despite the fact that it replaces some of the pieces in Neutron, Astara does not replace Neutron; without Neutron, Astara would not work. From Neutron’s point of view, it looks like a plugin, McClain said in the OpenStack:Now podcast. “From the neutron standpoint, the tenant would use neutron as it normally would, but Akanda would be in the background orchestrating the actual changes to the data path for the particular network function,” he said.

A Community Project

Astara is already used in production—it is the foundation of DreamHost’s OpenStack-based public cloud, DreamCompute.  McClain said the name change was intended to make it clear this is a community project, and he hopes more developers will contribute to the project.

For more details, such as why it’s a separate project, and how Astara relates to Neutron, check out Akanda’s FAQ and McClain’s blog.

And hear more about Astara in this week’s OpenStack:Now podcast with Mark McClain, Nick Chase, and John Jainschigg. Bonus question: What’s the link between Astara and The Big Lebowski?

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