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The Stack Archive

British Telecom threatens to abandon OpenStack in its current form

Wed 14 Oct 2015

British Telecom (BT) is considering opting for a proprietary technology for its virtual enterprise services. The move could prove a serious blow for OpenStack, a series of software tools for building and managing cloud computing platforms for public and private clouds.

BT’s concerns could, however, be calmed if six notable challenges are overcome. BT’s chief researcher for data networks, Peter Willis, explained that there were six specific issues for OpenStack to address in order to avoid such an outcome. Connecting Virtual Network Functions (VNFs) to the infrastructure raises a difficulty. Openstack connects sequentially with the sequence serially numbered in the VNF, raising the issue of trying to confirm that the Local Area Network (LAN) has been linked with the right LAN port or whether the Wide Area Network (WAN) has been connected with the right WAN port.

Another problem is service chain modification, which makes it hard to introduce a new service into the equation. Mr Willis spotlighted the example of connecting a router and firewall for a customer, only to discover that the customer requires a WAN accelerator. The OpenStack system means that this can’t be done.

Lack of scalability was another factor. Mr Willis estimated that a lone OpenStack controller could manage around 500 computing nodes, but BT’s virtual enterprise CPE scenario involves the management of approximately 100,000 CPEs.

Start-up storms are also a problem in the instance of a broken fibre connection: the damage and subsequent repair is a slow, laborious process for a controller with 100,000 nodes. Because of the slow encryption process, the customers have to turn off their nodes, and then turn them on again, one at a time.

Securing OpenStack over the internet was a problem as in Mr Willis’ tests, to make the computing node work (after putting it on the end of a DSL line linked to the internet), he had to open over 500 pinholes in his firewall to the controller. Additionally, backwards compatibility was required between the versions of Openstack with the ability to run multiple versions on the computing node from one controller.

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