OpenStack is a framework for building IT infrastructure. This framework consists of a collection of many smaller projects including OpenStack Nova (compute), Keystone (identity service), Glance (image service), Neutron (networking), and many others.
These components are combined into working software, either through a do-it-yourself (DIY) approach or by using one of the many available distributions. Brave admins will go the DIY route which allows you to select exactly which components you need and stay on the cutting edge with constant access to the latest and greatest OpenStack releases, which happen every six months.
A distribution is less work to build and maintain. You can get the whole setup installed in less than an hour — although you will also need to wait for the hot new features from the latest OpenStack releases.
There are many available OpenStack distributions including RDO/RHOS, Mirantis, SUSE, Ubuntu, DevStack, HPE, Oracle, VMware and others in the OpenStack marketplace. However, they are not all lightweight. The distribution you choose will depend on its features. These include the following:
- Supported projects
- Support offering (to help you out if things go wrong)
- Integration with your existing infrastructure
- Support for different hypervisors. Some distributions don’t go beyond supporting KVM, while others include support for nearly all of the available hypervisors.
Pick your distribution
The first step is to pick your distribution. My personal favorite is Red Hat based OpenStack, running on CentOS (RDO). It offers different deployment solutions which will lead to a fairly standardized configuration. It’s lightweight, running on a minimum of 6 GiB RAM, and supports KVM and ESXi hypervisors. And best of all it’s free, with a fast and easy deployment using Packstack. This makes it ideal to configure a demo OpenStack that will run as a virtual machine on your laptop, for instance.