OpenStack Foundation’s StarlingX 2.0 Expands Cloud Computing to the Edge


Thanks to a major update to StarlingX, cloud computing resources are no longer just about being at the core.

The OpenStack Foundation’s StarlingX has reached another major milestone, with the 2.0 release of the edge computing platform project.

Based on code contribution from Wind River Systems, StarlingX debuted in late 2018 to enable the development and deployment of edge computing cloud software infrastructure. The basic premise behind edge computing is that compute power is deployed at the edges of the network, be that a 5G cellular base station, remote location or small branch. With the StarlingX 2.0 update, a key new addition is the integration of the Kubernetes container orchestration engine, making it easier for users to use containers in edge deployments.

“The platform went through a drastic change with the transformation to leverage the benefits of using container technologies,” Ildiko Vancsa, ecosystem technical lead at the OpenStack Foundation, told ITPro Today. “The community has been working hard since the 1.0 release to build an open infrastructure solution for edge and IoT [internet of things] use cases … utilizing multiple well-known open-source components.”

With version 2.0, the platform integrates OpenStack and Kubernetes components using services from Airship to achieve flexibility as well as robustness and to be an instrumental part of the evolution of cloud computing toward the edge, according to Vancsa. Airship, another OpenStack Foundation effort, is enables automated cloud provisioning. The OpenStack cloud computing services themselves are also running in containers starting from the 2.0 release, to further ease deployment and improve manageability of the control plane services, she added.

While the main focus of the latest release cycle is containerization, the community also added new functionality and improvements to the platform—for example, support for Trusted Platform Module (TPM) devices to store secrets as well as UEFI secure boot capability for enhanced security, Vancsa said. AIso added was support for Precision Time Protocol (PTP) to provide a way to distribute and align a highly accurate clock around a factory or a telecom network area where Network Time Protocol (NTP) is not accurate enough.

Glenn Seiler, vice president of open source strategy at Wind River Systems, told ITPro Today that the other big effort in StarlingX 2.0 was to upgrade to the Stein release Stein release of OpenStack, which was announced in April. He noted that the previous release of StarlingX was on the OpenStack Pike release and carried a lot of technical debt and patches to Pike. With StarlingX 2.0, the project now uses a “vanilla” OpenStack without the technical debt of patches.

OpenStack No Longer Required?

While StarlingX is part of the OpenStack Foundation, with the 2.0 release, OpenStack as a cloud platform is no longer a required component for deployment. Organizations can deploy container workloads on bare metal without OpenStack, Seiler said. If someone wants to run virtual machines (VMs), StarlingX puts the OpenStack services and VMs in containers, he added.

“That said, there are some OpenStack-based services that remain on the controller—such as Keystone for security keys, Horizon is used for the admin interface,” Seiler said. “But there isn’t any OpenStack dependency on container workloads.”

Edge Computing

The number of edge computing efforts for cloud is growing as different groups try to carve out a position in the nascent space. According to Seiler, one of the big differentiators with StarlingX is that it is preintegrated and all dependencies, versioning and testing are already performed. He noted that a lot of projects define or provide “reference platforms,” and they may do some integration testing/validation. But those projects typically leave a lot of the details of configuration of components up to the user.

“StarlingX takes preintegrated to the point where it truly is deployment-ready,” he said.

Looking forward, StarlingX will at some point become the basis of a commercial offering that Wind River is developing.

What’s Next for StarlingX?

With the 2.0 release available, attention now turns to the future development of StarlingX. One key future development is that the next set of StarlingX releases will come out in shorter time frames.

Vancsa said that the StarlingX community is working on making the 3.0 release available later this year. After 3.0, she said the StarlingX community will have two releases per year, following a cycle-trailing model relative to the OpenStack release cycle.

“The community is also putting a lot of emphasis on thorough testing, including sanity and robustness testing, and looking into performance testing options too,” she said. “StarlingX is a very friendly and open community which is still growing and looking for participation and feedback from anyone who is interested in the platform or the use cases it is designed to provide a solution for.”

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