Openstack provides fantastic capabilities Enterprise companies can leverage to manage their infrastructure in addition provide supportive capabilities that applications can directly take advantage of like Swift and Keystone. As a whole open stack has a rich suite of tools that make it very compelling for enterprise companies to run their infrastructure on. The one area where open stack falls short is an application orchestration. That being said, it does have a project called Heat which attempt to fill this gap, but the adoption of heat as an application deployment platform and orchestration system has been lacking.

Recently the industry has realized that as applications grow in complexity they require a new level of resilience and reactive capabilities. In the past’s companies have attempted to use configuration management systems to fill this orchestration gap, but as anyone who has attempted to implement this orchestration layer using configuration management system with tools like Ansible, Puppet or Salt knows; These systems can get very complex, very quickly and can become a management nightmare. Fortunately, Google has been quietly implementing a new kind orchestration management system internally for the last 10 years; and has only recently started to share this knowledge and implement a publicly available version of this orchestration system in the form of a project called Kubernetes.

The real innovation that Google discovered with its 10 years of experience and that Kubernetes brings to the rest of the world is the idea of immutable infrastructure. Without going into too much detail here; as I plan on writing another post about this topic. Immutable infrastructure reduces the complexity that is required of the orchestration system which allows your orchestration system to focus on keeping your application up and making it resilient to failures, instead of managing the deep granularity that configuration management systems typically provide. The industry has recently been referring to this new way of orchestrating applications and infrastructure as Google Infrastructure For Everyone Else or GIFEE for short.

Although what kubernetes provides is very compelling, there are still many missing pieces to running a complete infrastructure and application orchestration stack. This is where I believe the marriage of open stack and kubernetes could really benefit the industry.

In a small way it’s already happening; for instance the latest release of Kubernetes added support for provisioning volumes with Openstack Cinder. In addition recently there has been some discussion as to how kubernetes can leverage Keystone is an authentication system. In fact the policy system proposal for Kubernetes is modeled after the Keystone policy system so the two communities are already learning from each other. This collaboration could become even more pronounced now that CoreOS and Intel have announced a joint project to deploy Openstack on top Kubernetes.

What might be lost on some is the realization that once you have launched opens stack on top of the kubernetes orchestration system, kubernetes can then make use of that same deployment to manage its infrastructure! So instead of thinking Openstack runs on Kubernetes; instead think of it more as a symbiotic relationship where Kubernetes manages the orchestration of the open stack control plane (which historically can be very complex to manage) and Openstack manages the creation and provisioning of additional infrastructure resources for Kubernetes to orchestrate.

Now…. Having said all this, there is definitely some overlap between the two projects and here I’m mostly thinking of Nova, Magnum and Heat. Additionally with the most recent release of Kubernetes, it can now schedule virtual machines within the cluster that it manages. Despite this overlap I still believe there is a opportunity for both communities to work together and create an infrastructure management stack that starts at the bare metal and runs all the way to the application.