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Cloud Native Ecosystem / Cloud Services / Kubernetes

Canonical Shrinks OpenStack for Small Clouds with Sunbeam

Want to use OpenStack without tears? Canonical's new Sunbeam OpenStack distro may be just what you need.
Jun 21st, 2023 5:00am by
Featued image for: Canonical Shrinks OpenStack for Small Clouds with Sunbeam

VANCOUVER, Canada — OpenStack is a very useful and stable open-source cloud. It’s also a very difficult cloud to set up properly. At the OpenInfra Summit here, Canonical announced it would extend its commercial OpenStack offering to small-scale clouds via a new project: Sunbeam.

How? By running OpenStack services inside Kubernetes-managed containers. With this approach, OpenStack is fully decoupled from the underlying operating system. This makes historically challenging operations, such as upgrades, much easier. “Sunbeam emerged to remove these barriers and is just the first step towards an autonomous private cloud,” said Tytus Kurek, a Canonical Product Manager.

Distinctive Characteristics

But Canonical states, Sunbeam is much more than just another OpenStack on Kubernetes package. By using native Kubernetes principals, such as StatefulSets and operators, OpenStack can be modeled, deployed, and managed as any other cloud native application.

The distinctive characteristic of Sunbeam is its MicroK8s-native architecture, which runs services inside containers. Now, this release only supports some OpenStack functionality. To be exact, it just supports the core services: compute, network, and storage.

Still, that’s enough for development work and small-scale projects. If that works well, you can then extend it to a large-scale, production project. This helps organizations standardize on a single substrate across their infrastructure while benefiting from a fresh, modern OpenStack.

Speaking of modern, Sunbeam is based on the newest OpenStack release, Antelope. Looking ahead, early adopters will be able to upgrade directly to the 2024.1 version through OpenStack’s Skip Level Upgrade Release Process (SLURP) mechanism.

Looking Ahead

Looking ahead, Thierry Carrez, the Open Infrastructure Foundation‘s general manager, commented, “It is expected to evolve quickly to achieve full feature parity with OpenStack Charms, Canonical’s OpenStack implementation reference architecture.

This project is available free of charge, wholly open source, and aims to democratize access to small-scale, modern cloud computing. Sunbeam’s key feature is its user-friendly approach. It offers a simple interface and straightforward installation instructions. Even those without OpenStack experience, Canonical promises, can set up a fully functional cloud in minutes.

Furthermore, its lightweight architecture allows Sunbeam to run on devices with limited hardware resources, including workstations and VMs, eliminating the need for dedicated hardware for testing purposes. Canonical encourages potential users to test Sunbeam, aka MicroStack, on their workstation or VM, to make their first OpenStack foray.

What I find interesting about this is that it really does make it possible for new users to explore OpenStack. This was, frankly, impossible until now. If you’re interested in OpenStack, this really is an ideal way to give it a try.

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