We all know the power and flexibility that public clouds like AWS bring to IT. But many businesses have security concerns about public clouds. And if you have an application that needs data that resides inside your enterprise, network bandwidth from a public cloud is an issue. For this reason, private clouds make a lot of sense for many business applications.
OpenStack provides the software infrastructure for private clouds, and as an open source project, it is free. OpenStack, however, has lots of parts, and is fairly hard to set-up. So when Ubuntu/Canonical announced the Orange Box at the Atlanta OpenStack summit, there was lots of excitement.
The Orange Box contains 10 nodes, each with 4 cores, and SSD storage. It is in a small enough package that it can be shipped with luggage in an airplane. If you want to learn OpenStack, Ubuntu will send an engineer to premise with the Orange Box, and help you set-up OpenStack on it. Thus, you can get training on OpenStack on a 10 node cluster without having to use any of your own machines.
Ubuntu views the Orange Box primarily as a training tool. When the engineer leaves, the Orange Box goes as well. But why not take things a step further? Why not have a supplier who ships “OpenStack in a Rack”?
It would be a relatively straightforward process for a manufacturer to configure an OpenStack cluster in machines in a 19″ rack, and then ship the whole assembly to a client. The client would only need to set a few external IP addresses, and the whole thing would be ready to go. Done right, the customer set-up time might be five minutes or so. And setting up a private cloud in only 5 minutes is a nice value proposition indeed.
To keep ordering simple and to allow mass production, configuration choices for the rack would be limited. Think of this as the “McDonald’s Principle”. You have only a few items on the menu, and you mass produce them.
To expand the private cloud would also be easy. You just order another rack. The first rack would already have the OpenStack control nodes, and the additional racks would simply have more nodes and disks. Cable the two together, and your private cloud just got bigger.
The availability of turnkey OpenStack providers could help speed the adoption of OpenStack private clouds in the enterprise.