Building an Enterprise-Focused Cloud Environment

October 27, 2017
By Ryan van Wyk

You’ve heard from Sorabh Saxena on the development of the AT&T Integrated Cloud (AIC). Largely built on open source software OpenStack®, this cloud is the foundation of our network transformation and is key for us to build a cloud-based infrastructure that can run virtual network functions. 

Our team is always looking to improve the AIC by collaboration with the OpenStack Community. One way we are doing this is by creating an enhanced cloud platform that simplifies and accelerates, adding new capabilities to our AIC and other network-based clouds in the industry.

This new platform, called the AIC Container Platform (AIC-CP), will address 5 challenges of large scale OpenStack clouds, like:

  1. Accelerate the speed of software deployments. It will deliver new cloud sites in days versus weeks, and perform platform upgrades in minutes.
  2. Enabling predictable cloud platform software through all stages of deployments.
  3. Increase the frequency with which we can deliver upgrades or cloud infrastructure changes by using the same Continuous Integration /Continuous Delivery process for all types of deployments.
  4. Minimize the impact on existing network workloads as we’re rolling out new upgrades and services.
  5. Provide operational maturity with greater visibility into the health of every component, robust software resiliency and the ability for the cloud to heal itself automatically.

The AIC-Container Platform (AIC-CP) is being developed in collaboration with OpenStack and other open source communities. It has 3 core components.

  1. Kubernetes®, an open-source system for automating deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications.
  2. Containers, a lightweight, stand-alone, executable package of software component, that includes everything needed to run it.
  3. OpenStack-Helm, an OpenStack project to enable deployment, maintenance, and upgrading of loosely coupled OpenStack services and their dependencies alone or as part of complex environments

OpenStack-Helm, an OpenStack Community Collaboration:

A core component of the AIC-CP is the community project OpenStack-Helm. OpenStack-Helm is Kubernetes, Helm, and OpenStack all working together. It seeks to create templates, or what we call Helm-Charts for each OpenStack service. These Helm-Charts are a mechanism for describing how to instantiate the cloud resources using Kubernetes. They also instruct Kubernetes how to manage the complete life cycle of the OpenStack cloud infrastructure.

Beyond just creating Helm-Charts that simply instantiate OpenStack services, the goal for OpenStack-Helm is to provide an incredibly customizable framework for operators and developers. This framework will enable end-users to deploy, maintain, and upgrade a fully functioning OpenStack environment for both simple and complex environments. For example, users of OpenStack-Helm can either deploy all, or individual OpenStack components, along with their required dependencies.

The OpenStack-Helm project has borrowed proven concepts from another OpenSource project, Stackanetes, as well as learnings from complex Helm application deployments.

At the end of the day, OpenStack-Helm is designed to bring OpenStack applications into a cloud-native model, which is necessary to help solve the 5 challenges mentioned above.

Through our work with OpenStack-Helm and the greater open source community, we are establishing a new industry standard for building, deploying and upgrading cloud environments, and ultimately, hastening the global shift to a software-centric infrastructure.

Ryan van Wyk, Assistant Vice President  – Cloud Platform Development

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