5 Things To Know About OpenStack


OpenStack has been catching a lot of attention in the past few years. The attention can be attributed due to the interest of large enterprises such as IBM, Cisco, EMC, RedHat, etc. in the OpenStack platform.

The 2016 OpenStack Summit caught a lot of attention and it saw 7,500 attendees from different backgrounds, regions, and interest. OpenStack is here to stay and that’s why we will focus on things that a beginner should know about OpenStack. If you are deep into OpenStack, this article is not meant for you! You may want to check out other OpenStack tutorial videos on video archive.

Let’s get started on OpenStack without further delay.

1. What is it?

OpenStack is an open source cloud platform with a focus on free cloud computing service. It is a set of tools that can be used to manage any cloud computing platforms for both private and public clouds. OpenStack foundation relies on community for continued growth. OpenStack offers systematic approach of handling sophisticated cloud platform services such as security, storage system, networking, compute engine, dashboard, etc.

OpenStack enables businesses to have full control over their assets. Business now don’t have to rely on proprietary cloud solutions for expansion. For example, if you want a feature to be added to your cloud computing solution, you can hire an OpenStack developer and let him build it for you.

Other main advantages of using OpenStack are avoiding vendor lock-in, flexibility to choose the underlying technology, full control over the system, operational efficiency, and cost savings. If you are interested in knowing which factor drives the choice of OpenStack by companies, you can check out the OpenStack Atlanta User Survey to find out more.

2. OpenStack Components

OpenStack is a set of components that work together to provide infrastructure as a service. The open nature of its components ensure that the user can utilize them according to their requirement, so the user has more control of the ecosystem than the software. This open structure can only be achieved by combining unique solutions for different cloud computing parts. Let’s discuss them below.


Nova: Nova is the compute engine of OpenStack. It offers service as a platform and enables you to run your own guest machines. Nova is responsible for management module and provisioning which ensures that virtualization is done correctly. It also acts as a control center for the whole system and hypervisors.

Swift: Swift is the storage system for files and objects. Swift enables developers to work with a unique identifier and let Swift store the information it wants. This way of handling data enables easy scaling and make it easy for the developer to work with data. Swift ensures that the availability of data is maintained.

Cinder: Cinder is a block storage implementation that works similar to a hard disk. Cinder is important in OpenStack platform as a service because of certain scenarios demanding persistent and high-speed access to data. With cinder, both effects can be achieved seamlessly. Also, the fact that the data is not lost on termination of an instance, enables developers to store vital information using Cinder block storage.

Neutron: Neutron, previously known as Quantum is the networking component of OpenStack which ensures that networking between the different components are done correctly.

Horizon: Horizon is a kanban style dashboard for all the action happening in OpenStack. This gives users an eagle-eye view. For developers, it is all about working with API and setting it up for the system administrators who will ensure that the cloud performs best with all the information they get access to.

Keystone: Keystone acts as an identification and mapping service for apps and users. The developer can map users to services or apps across the cloud. With this, permissions can be set and managed by the administrators.

Glance: Glance is a virtual machine image service. It helps to handle images or virtual machine easily and set a template for regular use.

Ceilometer: Ceilometer takes care of all the metering/billing information. This service is crucial for generating bills and handling resources.

Heat: Heat ensures that all the cloud application information is stored in a file. The orchestration component is necessary for any cloud setup and helps developers to manage the infrastructure.

3. Security Issues

OpenStack is relatively new compared to other established cloud computing solutions. OpenStack’s open source nature does help, but securing a codebase of 5 million code lines is tough for an open source project. The platform is slowly maturing, and regular code changes are done to make it more secure, robust and feature-rich.

Security is critical in a cloud computing environment. Companies are hesitant to invest into a platform where their data will not remain secure. The good news is that regular security patches are released, and the community improves its performance, security and reliability on timely basis.

4. Amazing Community

We already know that an open source project is all about its community. No open source project will reach its true potential without an active community. OpenStack has one of the biggest open source community and in fact the page for OpenStack speaks about the numbers that make it amazing. According to the page, “OpenStack has had 353,914 commits made by 6,118 contributors representing 3,716,027 lines of code”. That’s huge!

5. Getting Started With OpenStack

Loved the community and the scale at which OpenStack performs? You can also be the part of OpenStack. All you need to do is try out DevStack or TryStack. TryStack can help a novice get started with OpenStack as it provides a sandbox environment. DevStack, on the other hand, is a bit complicated to get started with.

Want to learn more? You can keep a track on OpenStack tutorial streams and also check out the Learn page to learn about the core technologies such as Python which is used in OpenStack. Our blog is also updated with guides, career development, job readiness articles, etc. that can help you prepare yourself for the market.

Final Thoughts

OpenStack is an important step in making cloud available to everyone. Companies with custom requirement are moving towards open source solutions — quite a pragmatic approach. One of the biggest problem in the market is the lack of OpenStack developers. OpenStack continuously train new developers and focus on improving the market. However, it will take some time to grow and become stable.

If you are interested in cloud computing, OpenStack can help you gain great learning experience since it is open source. So, why are you waiting? You can start learning it now and even broadcast your learning experience on to get noticed by your peers!

Check out AndyWojo learning OpenStack using Ruby programming language.

Also, let us know about what you think about OpenStack and its future? We are eager to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.


About author

I, Dr. Michael J. Garbade is the co-founder of the Education Ecosystem (aka LiveEdu), ex-Amazon, GE, Rebate Networks, Y-combinator. Python, Django, and DevOps Engineer. Serial Entrepreneur. Experienced in raising venture funding. I speak English and German as mother tongues. I have a Masters in Business Administration and Physics, and a Ph.D. in Venture Capital Financing. Currently, I am the Project Lead on the community project -Nationalcoronalvirus Hotline I write subject matter expert technical and business articles in leading blogs like,, Cybrary, Businessinsider,, TechinAsia, Coindesk, and Cointelegraph. I am a frequent speaker and panelist at tech and blockchain conferences around the globe. I serve as a start-up mentor at Axel Springer Accelerator, NY Edtech Accelerator, Seedstars, and Learnlaunch Accelerator. I love hackathons and often serve as a technical judge on hackathon panels.