OpenStack Liberty released
OpenStack Liberty released

OpenStack Liberty is the 12th release of the open source movement’s cloud platform.

It will be interesting to see how many vendors rush to announce that they are implementing OpenStack Liberty immediately. Most of the larger players are running a release behind the headline release with the majority just beginning to deploy OpenStack Kilo. The primary reason for this is the time it takes to test, approve and then deploy widely over their infrastructure. This is a good thing as it means customers get stability even if they don’t always get the latest shiniest features.

One of the big things about OpenStack Liberty is the number of contributors. 1,923 individuals and 164 organisations have all contributed code to this release. Some will have provided new features while the majority will have been focused on fixing bugs. While some software vendors are still dismissing open source as a risk to the enterprise, projects like OpenStack and in particular this release show that they are able to get more eyes on code than any single ISV could afford.

The quality process has also improved with this release as it has done in all previous releases and it has been achieved without impacting the ability to deliver on time. This is not just impressive it is also important as delays would cause problems downstream as service providers (CSP) plan their forward deployment list.

This is also the first major release since the Damascene moment in May when the OpenStack Foundation cracked down on the divergence of major OpenStack implementations. It demanded that vendors begin to decouple the software that they had been embedding in their OpenStack distributions to ensure that it was able to meet interoperability requirements. It also announced three new certifications and it is noticeable that there have been few vendors announcing that they have achieved any of the new certifications.

HP the biggest contributor and Neutron the largest component

HP is the biggest contributor to OpenStack despite the claims of many others. It accounted for 17% of the contributions by a company. Mirantis was second with 15% while IBM and Huawei, both of whom have been talking up their OpenStack involvement came in at 5th (7%) and 6th (4%) respectively.

The heavy involvement of HP comes at a time when it is cutting staff numbers and the company is splitting into two. To retain its focus on OpenStack says a lot about not only HP’s commitment to the project but also where HP sees its future in terms of cloud vs traditional operating systems.

OpenStack Liberty Contributions
OpenStack Liberty Contributions

The biggest single project is OpenStack Neutron which is all about networking and accounted for 9% of all the contribution. The primary areas of focus have been on IPv6, Quality of Service (QoS) and Virtual Private Networking (VPN) and load balancing. These are key features for enterprise customers and show a significant maturing of the work carried out on OpenStack Liberty.

OpenStack Nova which is focused on compute was second with 7% of the contributions with a large amount of the effort devote to the API and compute driver features. Among the latter were contributions around Libvirt, VMware and Hyper-V.

Openstack Swift which focuses on storage had a very small number of contributions but in the release notes there are a lot of new features and upgrades. The lack of contributions may well be because the storage vendors are currently focused on integrating with OpenStack Kilo rather than OpenStack Liberty and over the last few months almost every storage announcement has included the ability to work with the object storage model of OpenStack Swift.

What’s in OpenStack Liberty

To get the full list of features following this link to the OpenStack Liberty website which will direct you to the right place to get the release notes, contributor stats and the source code. There are six key areas of improvement:

  1. Enhanced Manageability – Common libraries and better configuration management have been added as a response to commercial companies deploying OpenStack. This is one of the areas where the big IT vendors added their own code and where the community has now resolved the problem. One of the most interesting additions is that of Role Based Access Control (RBAC) for security.
  2. Simplified Scalability – The big new feature here is Nova Cells v2 which supports very large and multi-location OpenStack compute deployments. There are a lot of enhancements to the Horizon dashboard and it is much simpler to add block storage services and manage upgrades.
  3. Extensibility to support New Technologies – Much of the new feature work here is around OpenStack Nova (see above). Integration of NFV and SDN has also been taking place to provide network operators with the ability to provide software defined services for end-to-end network connectivity.
  4. Container Management – Docker still rules the roost but the emergence of new container technologies continues. Magnum is the latest container technology to emerge with support for Kubernetes, Mesos and Docker Swarm. The work in Magnum has also focused in better integration with the OpenStack Nova, Ironic and Neutron projects.
  5. Orchestration – For anyone wanting to integrate OpenStack with their DevOps environment, orchestration is key. The Heat orchestration project has been substantially updated with the addition of the new Convergence orchestration engine. There is a warning in the release notes, however, that Convergence has not been production tested and is still a Beta product. This means that commercial providers are unlikely to adopt it for at least six months if not longer.
  6. Focus on Core Services with Optional Capabilities – With OpenStack in its 12th iteration much of the initial ‘big project’ work has been completed. The focus now is on a much smaller set of stable core services which will ensure that OpenStack can continue to develop and leave room for software vendors and commercial companies to add their own services around peripheral features. With the focus on the core services it will make it much easier for companies to trust the ability to move between OpenStack implementations.


This is another release packed with new features and showing that it is possible to get a large community of individuals and companies to all working together towards a common goal. While most commercial deployments of OpenStack are just moving onto OpenStack Kilo, this release shows that there is a solid future for OpenStack and one that is likely to continue for some time to come.



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