Interview with Alvaro Lopez Ortega of RDO, OpenStack

A community distribution of OpenStack

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If you're interested in installing OpenStack, chances are you are going to want a little help. While it's entirely possible to get OpenStack up and running from the source files, using a distribution which has been packaged for your operating system is likely to make your life much easier.

In this interview with Red Hat's Alvaro Lopez Ortega, we learn a little bit about RDO, a community distribution of OpenStack which is designed to make it easy to install on operating systems like Fedora and CentOS. Alvaro is presenting at OpenStack Live next week, where he'll share both some technical details on RDO as well as a little bit about the community that makes it happen.

Interview

Without giving too much away, what is your talk about? Tell us a little bit about RDO and where it fits within OpenStack.

RDO is a project that makes OpenStack easily consumable with Fedora, CentOS and RHEL systems.

As you know, OpenStack is fairly big and complex, and deploying it isn't a trivial task. RDO is a community of people who provides both packages and deployment tools that allows anybody to build his OpenStack based cloud environment.

My talk at OpenStack Live 2015 will introduce how the community works, and the technology and tools we have developed. I will also speak a little bit about what the community is currently working on for the upcoming version of OpenStack.

Aside from the technical bits, I would also like to cover the concept of building a vertical open source community around a much bigger and generic project: rationale, dynamics, the interaction between the two, etc.

Is RDO usable for production deployments? What kinds of use cases are you seeing?

Since RDO was launched, we have seen a wide variety of use cases. We have heard all sorts of user stories, from universities using RDO to provide cloud computing capabilities to its students, to the CERN, using RDO on 100,000 cores for particle physics research calculations.

It's worth pointing out that RDO is a community effort, so when it comes to support, the project's mailing lists, IRC channels and ask.openstack.org site are your best options. If you need professional support for your production environment, a commercial distribution like Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform (RHEL-OSP) would be the way to go.

Is RDO only about packaging, or does it push commits back to the upstream community?

RDO is about packaging, deployment tools and the community to get OpenStack working seamlessly on Fedora, CentOS and RHEL.

Whenever an RDO contributor fixes something in OpenStack, he contributes it to the upstream project. Since RDO packages the latests versions of OpenStack, the change comes back naturally to RDO after it's been successfully reviewed and merged to OpenStack.

The rest of the work performed in RDO is done within the community boundaries. We follow most of the OpenStack and Fedora development conventions and practices, so sometimes the line between one and the other is blurred. Needless to say, everything done in RDO is open and committed to public repositories as it's being developed.

What's new in RDO? What might we see in the next release?

Currently, we have quite a few new features landing in RDO. The most interesting ones would include:

  • Kilo packages: We've got Kilo packages ready to be consumed. That is packages built out of upstream sources and validated through a fairly exhaustive CI process. Having the ability to install the very latest (yet to be released) bits from OpenStack in a clean and controlled way will certainly make many people's lives much easier.

  • RDO Manager: A new deployment tool is being developed so RDO can deploy TripleO-based OpenStack instances. It is being actively developed, and this makes it a work-in-progress at this stage, although we do expect to have something stable within the next weeks.

  • Open packaging: We've done a big effort to make sure the RDO packaging is a completely open community process. A great guide has been written describing every single step of the process in detail to facilitate new contributors joining the effort.

  • CentOS CI: We are working to move our CI process over to CentOS. Previously RDO depended on internal Red Hat infrastructure for running its CI processes. Since we are committed to making RDO a completely open and neutral community, we've been working closely with our CentOS fellows to make the full transition as soon as possible.

  • OPNFV: We are working hard to make RDO a great platform to run NFV workloads onto. We're working with the Open Platform NFV (OPNFV) project to make sure RDO becomes a reference platform and to make NFV part of the technology set supported by RDO.

What brought you to OpenStack? What's exciting about it to you?

Most of my 15 plus years long professional experience developing open source software has been on system software in the server side. From that perspective starting to work on OpenStack was a pretty natural step for me.

There are two things that, after three years working on OpenStack, still attract me like the first day. First, the impact that the technology is having and its potential in the short and medium term. Even if we are not there yet, we'll see how most of the current IT environments transition gradually to cloud environments. In a few years, when we'll see servers running out of a cloud environment, it will look like dated technology from the 90s.

Second, the community dynamics and pace of innovation are just amazing. What the OpenStack project is managing to pull together on every single cycle is impressive, not only for the new components that are being developed, but the number of bugs that are fixed from one release to the next. OpenStack is, in my opinion, a very good example of what the open source development model can do.

Why do you think open source matters for enterprise applications?

At this stage, it isn't a matter of opinion any longer. Why I or anybody else believes open source matters is not relevant anymore. It used to be more of less relevant, but now that massively successful open source projects like Linux, OpenStack, Hadoop, Webkit, Pentaho, Android, Python, R, etc. got so massively adopted by the industry, facts speak for themselves. The world runs on open source software nowadays.

Open source matters to the enterprise because it has proven to be able to trigger what are unthinkable innovation processes outside of this ecosystem. Also, the community processes open source is based on raises the quality of the software being developed substantially, which once again doesn't happen at the same scale outside of the open source ecosystem.

Enterprises have been increasing the use of open source steeply, and there is no reason to think that it will change in the medium-long term, but all the opposite. In fact, as long as the open source ecosystem is the epicenter of Innovation and the open source development model continues being much more efficient than its “closed” counterparts, the advantages for enterprises to adopt open source software will be obvious.

I must say that, after 15 years of professional career devoted to open source software, I'm absolutely delighted to see how it's reached a position in which facts are so convincing that expert opinions are no longer needed.

How can someone learn more or get more involved?

You can find plenty of useful information on how to get involved with RDO on its website.

More specifically, the RDO mailing list would be the most relevant place along with the #rdo IRC channel in Freenode for engaging with the RDO community. Alternatively, the ask.openstack.org site is a great place for asking questions about RDO too.

OpenStack Live
Speaker Interview

This article is part of the Speaker Interview Series for OpenStack Live. OpenStack Live is a conference which is designed to teach attendees about the best practices and performance considerations for operating OpenStack, taking place in Santa Clara, California on April 13 and 14, 2015.

About the author

Jason Baker - I use technology to make the world more open. Linux desktop enthusiast. Map/geospatial nerd. Raspberry Pi tinkerer. Data analysis and visualization geek. Occasional coder. Cloud nativist. Civic tech and open government booster.