How to Build a Private Cloud Using OpenStack

OpenStack is often seen as a way to create a private cloud but it is equally important as an overall Infrastructure as a Service or Data Center management software. This article focuses on the private cloud aspect of OpenStack since most research starts on how to set up private cloud with OpenStack.

We can cover more information on how OpenStack fits into Data Center management in another post. For now we will focus on the typical installation of OpenStack.

For people just starting please check out “What is OpenStack?” first.

How to Create a Private Cloud using OpenStack

There are a few questions that will help you narrow down the path you might want to take. First though, its important to clarify that there are many parts of OpenStack that handle different situations. These part of OpenStack are called Projects. You do not need to learn about all Projects at this time to get started creating a cloud.

The number of Projects can be daunting, but in a typical starting setup to learn how to implement OpenStack you will only use the following plus maybe one or two more based on your situation:

With that out of the way, the next question. Are you learning how to build a private cloud with OpenStack for educational purposes or because your company will need a cloud in the near future?

I am just learning to build an OpenStack Cloud for fun/education.

Since you are creating a cloud for education we generally recommend that you use an emulation system. It is an OpenStack in a VM where the VM has special settings to allow for “VMs in a VM”. Running OpenStack in a VM is not performant – as you might imagine! It will let you understand how all these Projects work together though. We have used this here at InMotion for training purposes. Please see our Learn OpenStack on a VM guide for more information.

We do allow a limited amount of individual use, for free, of a Private Cloud Core. You can create a private cloud in about 45 minutes and use it for around two days after that – 32 hours or so. We do ask that you use this sparingly if it is purely for educational purposes. Signup here and you will need to answer some questions to be authorized as the value of the clouds can run in the $1500+ per month so we get a significant amount of attempted abuse.

Steps to build a Private Cloud using OpenStack for my company.

You have a mission! Your company is looking for an alternative to high priced mega cloud providers. OpenStack is one of the most robust and supported pieces of software online, period. Only a few softwares, like Linux itself, has a larger and more active community.

As a leader in on-demand private cloud, which is built with OpenStack, we hope that you will take a look at our Flex Metal Cloud offering. You can be up and running in as little as 45 minutes with a prescriptive OpenStack that allows for efficient Day 2 operations. It also comes with HA Ceph for storage. All hyper-converged on 3 servers to get started so it is low cost to learn before going to production. If your company qualifies, you can actually create a private cloud for free on our system.

What is On-Demand Private Cloud?

Show Me!

With that out of the way, if you are still here, then you are interested in the challenge of creating a private cloud with OpenStack manually.

I will flush this post out over the next couple weeks. We will cover the stages to follow for creating your own scalable OpenStack private cloud implementation for your business. Key areas are:

How to get a Proof of Concept running right away to start learning.

A complete OpenStack installation takes expertise in server hardware, front and back LAN networking, IPMI networking, routing, virtualized routing and switching, Hypervisor/Virtualization, storage principles, API usage, deployment automation/code like Ansible, and more.

Your team will be required to learn a lot of things and you need a place for them to start. We highly recommend that your team starts with a prebuilt system from us or one of the other OpenStack providers. We believe it so strongly that we provide our “Private Cloud Core” for free for non-Production use. Restrictions apply and if you do not expect to buy from us for your production needs, then your access to free time will be prioritized behind paying customers.

If you are going to make a private cloud lab, here are some recommendations:

  • Use three identical servers – this will allow you to use Ceph easily as your Storage provider and setup OpenStack with a highly available control plane. Identical is not required but it will make your life easier for things like balancing VMs, doing live migrations which require matching CPU flags, and various other things.
  • Route a /27 or /28 of public IP space to the VLANs where you are going to put the above boxes. Public IP space will make your testing and assembly of the cloud easier. A 1Gbit connection is enough, but a 10Gbit connection makes life easier.
  • Don’t try to automate the setup of the hardware using Ironic or Bi-Frost. Just get your OpenStack and Ceph running and come back to automation of the underlying hardware. For sure Ironic is one of the super-powers of OpenStack, but with great power comes great complexity!
  • Use Kolla-Ansible and Ceph Ansible for deploying – and setup your Ceph on the servers first before your OpenStack as then you can supply the right configs to OpenStack to use Ceph for Block and Object Storage right away
  • I will add some more here as I can

Next I will get some additional information for the following list:

  • How to size your Hyper-Converged Private Cloud Core
  • Implementing your private cloud On-Premise or in a Colocation Facility
  • What workloads? Lift and Shift?
  • Timelines? Will you start small? You should! There is a minimum size but a good private cloud design starts small and scales easily!
  • Identify Your Team
  • Identify Your Hardware – more on this later but we created a private cloud with some of the smallest building blocks available today – check out our Case Study with SuperMicro
  • And more coming soon!

With On-Demand Private Cloud surging in popularity, we believe making OpenStack accessible is key – for more information check out Why is OpenStack Important for Small Business.

Todd Robinson
Todd Robinson President at InMotion Hosting, BoldGrid, and – a big OpenStack fan!

I would really appreciate any thoughts and guidance you might want to share. Please connect with me on LinkedIn or leave a comment below with requests or questions — even corrections if I managed to mess up something!

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