The OpenStack Big Tent just got a whole lot bigger. The Technical Committee has voted in the largest OpenStack project yet: Fuel. Fuel is an open source deployment and management tool for OpenStack. It’s a lesser-known project, but it’s huge, with 50 percent more code than Nova and 75 percent more commits per month than Neutron. Developed as an OpenStack community effort, Fuel provides an intuitive, GUI-driven experience for deploying and operating OpenStack, related community projects and plug-ins. In short, it provides a quick onramp to OpenStack.
OpenStack User Survey, p. 26
The Technical Committee, which is composed of elected representatives from most key players in the OpenStack community, accepted Fuel as an OpenStack project under the Big Tent governance model because the engineering process in Fuel is done in the OpenStack way. Mirantis uses Fuel as a part of Mirantis OpenStack and is a major contributor. The company’s pure-play approach has enabled the Fuel team to use the same process as upstream, from code reviews and bug tracking tools, to sharing email and IRC communication channels with other OpenStack teams, to establishing active collaboration with other OpenStack projects such as Puppet and Infrastructure. Today Fuel is flexible, decoupled from vendor-specific solutions, and enables multiple choices for key supporting technologies (from storage to networking to operating systems).
Fuel’s acceptance into the Big Tent is terrific news for Fuel contributors and the OpenStack community. OpenStack operators get a comprehensive and mature deployment service. OpenStack vendors get assurance that Fuel can and will support their favored OpenStack version and distribution. OpenStack developers can use Fuel to explore more complex multi-node deployment configurations.
It also goes a long way in assuring community members that the Fuel project will remain open and neutral. My hope is that this encourages other vendors to increase their contributions to enable additional platforms, OpenStack projects, and deployment configurations. More diverse contributions would not just expand Fuel’s functional scope, but also drive the flexibility of Fuel’s core components. It will also ensure the long term viability of the project by making it less dependent on investments from a single commercial entity.
To the current and future Fuel contributors: our work has just begun. The whole community will be paying close attention to Fuel, and will expect our open source team to improve our high standards of open collaboration, cross-project communication, adherence to OpenStack engineering practices and alignment with OpenStack development tools.
We have solved the problem of initial deployment, so the next big challenge for the Fuel team is to simplify the “day 2” operation of OpenStack environments: applying updates, upgrades, configuration changes, adding and removing services and plugins, scaling up and down, logging, monitoring, and alerting. This whole class of problems is often called “lifecycle management,” and remains largely unaddressed by existing tools.
Fuel developers kicked off the discussion of lifecycle management use cases with the OpenStack community at large before the OpenStack summit in Tokyo in October, focusing on what it means not only for deployment services, but for all OpenStack projects. The Technical Committee is also looking into encouraging all OpenStack projects to consider these use cases by labeling projects with tags such as “supports-upgrade” which indicate which aspects of this problem are supported out of the box.
With increased interest in Fuel from other OpenStack developers, turning Fuel itself and its massive body of deployment tests into a development tool for other OpenStack projects will become another major theme for the Fuel team. While some projects such as Puppet OpenStack are interested in validating their code with the Fuel CI, the OpenStack Infrastructure team is already calling for the next step: porting the same tests to nodepool and other tools used to operate the OpenStack CI on top of public OpenStack clouds.
We have a great opportunity and responsibility to make OpenStack easy to install and operate at scale. Let’s work together to make Fuel the best it can be!