OpenStack is now being the flagship of open-source cloud computing, widely employed by public and private clouds. In order to further promote OpenStack in China, Hui Cheng, the co-founder of China Open-Source Cloud League(COSCL) and the lead manager of COSUG, published the StackLab project（http://stacklab.org/）on September 22, 2012 at China OpenStack Tour #2, Shenzhen. StackLab is a freely accessible OpenStack laboratory, providing an free OpenStack sandbox to the public. Anyone can sign up an account, and use the cloud resources and services provide by OpenStack in a limited time without any additional equipments or fees.
COSCL is initiated by Intel and Sina, with China Standard Software Corporation(CS2C) and Shanghai Jiaotong University being the first two key members. The goal of COSCL is to unite the open-source cloud developers, especially the OpenStack contributors, to share the R&D resources and jointly develop in the OpenStack community, thus to advance the development of China Cloud Computing industry, as well as to extend the contribution from China in the OpenStack Community.
As we know, StackLab open laboratory provides the original OpenStack sandbox, and anybody is able to sign up and experience OpenStack without any prerequisite or invitation code. Even though the resources that anyone can use is limited and will expire in 24 hours. However, you can apply new resources for another period as you wish.
The initial hardware infrastructure of StackLab is sponsored by Sina and Intel, and in the begining, some folks from Sina OpenStack dev team volunteer the development and operation of StackLab, and more volunteers are welcome to participate in this work.
For the members of COSCL, StackLab is providing a virtually production environment. There is no SLA guarantee so that we can do some regular updates or patches in StackLab, and wait for the feedback from users. All of these will speed up the process of the testing and QA of new features. For example, Sina will benefit from the experiences gained from the operation of StackLab. Since the underlying of Sina Web Services(SWS) is identical with StackLab, new patches can be first pushed to StackLab for validation, and we can get feedback from real users, and then patch this update to SWS.
In addition, as the community manager of COSUG, Hui Cheng will make full use of resources of this organization and invite China OpenStack users, developers and technophiles who are interested in OpenStack, to experience StackLab, so as to further increase StackLab user base and its influence.
In order to improve the user experience of StackLab, we have employed some sophisticated infrastructure technology and made some improvement of OpenStack, the following is what we have done:
- Multi-IDC Support. We have consolidated multiple data-centers from Sina, Intel and other members to one single portal, which allows user to select different regions in the same dashboard;
- Automated deployment and continuous integration. To deploy one StackLab services in a new IDC, we have implemented automated deployment of physical servers, operating systems, and also have achieved the OpenStack environmental automated deployment and continuous integration, containing code-review system, the git repository, automatic packaging and testing system.
- Security Enhancement and accurate resource control. As an OpenStack sandbox which does not set any threshold for normal users, we need apply additional network security policy based on the current security mechanism of OpenStack, such as isolated the internal network from virtual network in OpenStack, the CPU resources, bandwidth, I/O performance of VM is also limited, for ensuring resources to be fair shared;
- Solve the problem of IPv4 public address shortage. As we all know, the IPv4 address shortage is restricting domestic public cloud development. For StackLab projects, in order ensure the every virtual machine that created by more than thousand users could be accessible from public network. In order to meet this requirement, we have developed an L4 load balancing service, which allow users to access their newly created instances without additional public IP address, but through load balancing.
Current the needed hardware and infrastructure by StackLab are provided by the members from COSCL. In order to achieve larger deployment of this free public OpenStack sandbox, and further promote the development of the open platform, and thus benefit more companies and individuals, Hui Cheng also mentioned that in his speech , more sponsored hardware infrastructure and other resources to StackLab are welcome, as an return, companies would have the opportunity to be listed in the StackLab sponsor page, and also have our volunteer professional support, and the transfer of StackLab technology. As far as I see, Gamewave Group has confirmed the sponsorship of infrastructure resources to StackLab , as well as Huawei, Canonical and other companies also expressed sponsored intentions.
So far StackLab platform provides the cloud hosting services, more services will soon be on the line, such as the object storage Swift, block storage Cinder, network virtualization platform Quantum, future planned integrated Hadoop big data application. and we promise that all services, resources, or the potential application of StackLab are freely available to any company or personal for non-commercial use.
Support mail for StackLab is: OpenStackLab@gmail.com, in the case for any company and personal of any problems or technical cooperation, sponsorship intention, feel free to contact us. Follow COSUG official Weibo @OpenStack get the latest news.
We believe StackLab will become an important force to promote the development of China’s cloud computing technology, especially increase the potential influence of OpenStack.
Reference: OpenStack Foundation operates a similar free OpenStack sandbox - TryStack.org, which is sponsored by a number of international manufacturers. The OpenStack community volunteers participate in the operations and support of this project, so that more ordinary users could be able to experience TryStack project without any cost, which plays an important role in promoting the entire OpenStack ecosystem.