How to Install and Upgrade OpenStack Clouds: Dell Crowbar?

In the cloud computing market, upgrades are supposed to be instantaneous -- with little or no impact to end-customers. But when it comes to OpenStack, the open source cloud computing environment, early adopters and cloud consultants are discovering that upgrading from one OpenStack release to the next release can sometimes be a difficult, time-consuming process.

That's where companies like Mirantis and Dell (promoter of Crowbar) potentially enter the picture. Mirantis has about 250 employees, 50 of whom focus on OpenStack consulting. Mirantis wants to be the bridge between new open source innovations and live production deployments. The idea is to keep customers' OpenStack clouds humming along even while code upgrades are made, said Boris Renski, co-founder and CMO at Mirantis.


What Is Dell Crowbar?

As part of the upgrade process, Mirantis leverages Dell Crowbar. According to Dell, Crowbar is a cloud builder tool that supports:

  • multinode Dell OpenStack-powered cloud solutions deployed on bare-metal servers in a few minutes to hours -- rather than days or weeks.

  • design, maintenance and expansion of OpenStack clouds, including BIOS configuration, network discovery, status monitoring, performance data gathering and alerting.

For OpenStack to gain broad enterprise adoption, Renski said, OpenStack deployments must be successfully synchronized with community code base enhancements, so that older OpenStack deployments don't get left behind on legacy code.

Dell and many of its server hardware rivals -- namely Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard and IBM -- are part of the newly organized OpenStack Foundation. But I'm not sure if (A) Dell will offer Crowbar as a tool for third-party server makers, nor do I know if (B) additional server vendors plan to introduce their own OpenStack deployment tools.

For more on Dell Crowbar, check out Barton George's blog, featuring a Crowbar-related video interview with Zenoss's Rob Booth.

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