Book Image

OpenStack for Architects

By : Michael Solberg, Benjamin Silverman
Book Image

OpenStack for Architects

By: Michael Solberg, Benjamin Silverman

Overview of this book

Over the last five years, hundreds of organizations have successfully implemented Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) platforms based on OpenStack. The huge amount of investment from these organizations, industry giants such as IBM and HP, as well as open source leaders such as Red Hat have led analysts to label OpenStack as the most important open source technology since the Linux operating system. Because of its ambitious scope, OpenStack is a complex and fast-evolving open source project that requires a diverse skill-set to design and implement it. This guide leads you through each of the major decision points that you'll face while architecting an OpenStack private cloud for your organization. At each point, we offer you advice based on the experience we've gained from designing and leading successful OpenStack projects in a wide range of industries. Each chapter also includes lab material that gives you a chance to install and configure the technologies used to build production-quality OpenStack clouds. Most importantly, we focus on ensuring that your OpenStack project meets the needs of your organization, which will guarantee a successful rollout.
Table of Contents (14 chapters)
OpenStack for Architects
About the Authors
Customer Feedback

Drafting an initial deployment plan

OpenStack is designed to be used at scale. Many IT projects might comprise a few physical assets deployed within an existing network, storage, and compute landscape, but OpenStack deployments are, by definition, new network, storage, and compute landscapes. Any project of this size and scope requires significant coordination between different teams within an IT organization. This kind of coordination requires careful planning and, in our experience, a lot of documentation.

The role of the Architect

This book is written to provide best practices for a relatively new role within many organizations-the Cloud Architect. The Cloud Architect's primary function is to take business requirements for Infrastructure or Platform as a Service and design an Infrastructure or Platform as a Service solution which meets those requirements. This requires an in-depth knowledge of the capabilities of the infrastructure software paired with competency in network and storage architecture.

The typical Cloud Architect will have a background in compute and will lean heavily on the Network and Storage Architects within an organization to round out their technical knowledge. Since OpenStack is based on the Linux operating system, most OpenStack Architects will have a deep knowledge of that platform. But as we mentioned earlier, OpenStack is typically delivered as an API and OpenStack Architects will need to have fluency in application development as well.

OpenStack Architects are responsible first and foremost for authoring and maintaining a set of design and deployment documentation. It's difficult to describe an ocean if you've never seen one, so this book will walk you through implementation of the documentation that you will create as you create it.

The design document

The first document that we will create is the design document. This may be called something different in your organization, but the goal of the design document is to explain the reasoning behind all of the choices that were made in the implementation of the platform. The format may vary from team to team, but we want to capture the following points:

  • Background: This is the history behind the decision to start the project. If the document will only be consumed internally, this can be pretty short. If it's going to be consumed externally, this is an opportunity to provide organizational context for your vendors and partners.

  • Executive summary: This is really just a detailed summary of the entire document. Typically, this part of the deliverable will be used by managers, technology, and business leaders to understand the business impact of the overall recommendation. Requirements and the resulting architecture should be summarized.

  • Requirements: This is the meat of the document. Requirements can be in whatever format is acceptable for your project management team. We prefer the "user story" format and will use that in the examples in this book.

  • Physical architecture: This is an explanation of roles and physical machines which take those roles. This should include a network diagram.

  • Service architecture: This is a summary of available services and their relationships. This section should include a service diagram.

  • Tenant architecture: A section should be included which describes the expected landscape inside the cloud. This includes things such as available compute flavors, images, identity management architecture, and IPAM or DDI.

  • Roadmap: This section is optional and often lives in another document. It's an opportunity to identify areas for improvement in future releases of the platform.

The design document often goes through a number of revisions as the project is developed. An important step at the end of each iteration of the platform is to reconcile any changes made to the platform with the design document.


Beware of scope creep in the design document. This artifact has a tendency to turn into documentation on how OpenStack works. Remember to focus on explaining the decisions you made instead of what all the available options at the time were.

The deployment plan

Every implementation of OpenStack should start with a deployment plan. The design document describes what's being deployed and why, while the deployment plan describes how. Like the design document, the content of a deployment plan varies from organization to organization. It should at least include the following:

  • Hardware: This is a list of the compute, storage, and network hardware available for the deployment.

  • Network addressing: This is a table of IP and MAC addresses for the network assets in the deployment. For deployments of hundreds of compute nodes, this should probably be limited to a set of VLANs and subnets available for the deployment.

  • Deployment-specific configuration: We'll assume that the configuration of the OpenStack deployment is automated. These are any settings that an engineer would need to adjust before launching the automated deployment of the environment.

  • Requirements: These are things that need to be in place before the deployment can proceed. Normally, this is hardware configuration, switch configuration, LUN masking, and so on.

A good deployment plan will document everything that an engineering team needs to know to take the design document and instantiate it in the physical world. One thing that we like to leave out of the deployment plan is step-by-step instructions on how to deploy OpenStack. That information typically lives in an Installation Guide, which may be provided by a vendor or written by the operations team.