Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Book Review - OpenStack in Action by Cody Bumgardner

This is another of my semi-regular book reviews for the British Computer Society, who kindly provided me with a free copy of this book, in ePub format.

OpenStack in Action by Cody Bumgardner

Whether you call it serendipity or just-in-time, the timing of the offer to review this book was perfect, in that I was looking at OpenStack, in order to better understand and position it to my clients and peers.

Therefore, this book ticked all the right boxes for me, in terms of allowing me to get a context and deeper understanding of OpenStack ( and the related DevStack offering ).

Initially, Cody introduces OpenStack and its API, positioning alongside virtualisation, hypervisors, containerisation and public/private/hybrid clouds. He makes the point that OpenStack is built out of a "stack" of services, including storage, networking, security and orchestration.

Having set the scene, the book immediately jumps into a "hands-on" phase, walking the reader through the installation, setup and use of DevStack, on a provided VM, or via a native, custom build on a Linux distribution such as Ubuntu.

This does assume that the reader has some familiarity with Linux, but is a fairly safe bet given the potential audience of the book. Equally, the use of the so-called "companion" VM does help, if the objective is merely to get some hands-on with DevStack, without actually building it.

Post-DevStack, Cody then describes how OpenStack can be driven, most logically using the command-line interface (CLI). This is a useful section in that it provides the context and introduces aspects such as tenants, users and roles.

My only critique of this section is that the page formatting, leastways in the ePub format that I was using, as the font/size used is rather small, meaning that it's somewhat hard to read the listings, where the actual CLI commands are displayed.

The book continues by joining together the OpenStack components, aka services, highlighting the inter-dependencies and the security model, and outlining the relationship between OpenStack and 3rd party solutions, such as storage and networking.

During the second half of the book, Cody dives even more deeply into the setup of the major OpenStack components; this compares and contrasts nicely to the DevStack setup, and this section is very "hands-on", in terms of commands, projected output, results etc.

Again, the assumption is that the reader is going to be deeply engaged in the build, as well as the use, of an OpenStack cloud. It's also fair to say that an understanding of Linux and TCP/IP networking would be of use here.

By the end of this hands-on section, the reader will have a much deeper level of expertise with OpenStack, in terms of understanding both WHAT and HOW it does what it does.

Finally, Cody walks through what one needs to consider when delivering OpenStack into production, again focusing upon networking, storage topologies, automated HA provisioning, and, perhaps most importantly, cloud orchestration using Heat and Ubuntu Juju.

For me, I wanted to get an introduction to, and the context of, OpenStack, and this book was perfect for that. It also provided me with a good opportunity get some hands-on experience with the product, both via DevStack and OpenStack itself.

As with all things, I'm usually ready to learn something when I need to learn something, and, as mentioned, the timing was perfect.

I now need to go and build something with OpenStack, ideally building upon what I already know.

So that's my next challenge ….

If you are looking to get an introduction into, and some hands-on with, OpenStack, as well as a more general deep-dive reference, then this is definitely the book for you.

Out of 10, I'd give this book a solid 9, and would recommend it to others.

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