Cisco Systems, one of the world's largest technology companies, signaled last week that it has more than a passing interest in cloud infrastructure by submitting a design for OpenStack: Network as a Service (NaaS).
Cisco's proposal is not the first for NaaS, but I believe it signifies an important acceptance not just of a change to the way that we consume compute and networking but a shift in how big companies will make OpenStack both the literal and metaphorical Apache Web server for cloud services.
The networking component of both public and private clouds has been woefully underserved, either because big networking vendors see it as a risk--after all, they can't easily monetize a virtual network the way they could a physical one--or because the pace and mores of open-source development don't fit with their own development models.
The OpenStack: NaaS proposal provides a network abstraction layer and set of APIs to enable a broader set of services and APIs than is currently available.
- Requesting and acquiring network connectivity by OpenStack:Compute for interconnecting two VM instances, both single virtual network (single vnic) or multi vnics to different virtual networks.
- Network Services (e.g. firewall, load balancers, Wide Area Acceleration Services) insertion at the appropriate virtual networks; and dynamically request "adaptive" network resources.
- Monitoring and management or resources that require visibility or consumption, such as: disaster recovery, network health, chargeback /billing services etc.
- A wealth of new networking capabilities, including the potential for new services such as SLA management.
OpenStack has enjoyed some substantial success as well as one notable disgruntled community member thus far--very common to important open-source projects. But the strength of a project is demonstrated by its community, which to become mainstream requires adoption and participation from not just individuals but from companies that see the project as an important part of future infrastructure. We saw this happen with Apache and Linux, and I believe we'll see it with OpenStack as well.