Thanks to the APIs that are made available by cloud service providers, developers can spin up a virtual machine in a matter of minutes. However, when it comes to provisioning network resources, the process can still take weeks. Via broader adoption of a Neutron API that has been defined within the open source OpenStack cloud management framework that should all being to dramatically change in 2015.
Neutron was created to enable cloud service providers to programmatically expose network services that can be invoked on demand. As such, Neutron is part of a larger trend toward giving developers more direct control over the IT infrastructure resources they consume. Instead of waiting for IT operations teams to manually configure network infrastructure, developers can configure and invoke IT infrastructure resources in minutes.
Based on an implementation of RESTful APIs and JSON, the Neutron API first became available with the Juno release of OpenStack. Of course, Neutron APIs are only one way network resources in the cloud will be exposed to developers. VMware, Microsoft and Amazon Web Services (AWS) don’t currently use OpenStack as their primary cloud management framework. And as Aaron Sullivan, senior director and distinguished engineer, infrastructure strategy at Rackspace, notes, even supporters of OpenStack such as Rackspace are going to provide customers with multiple management frameworks in the cloud. Rackspace, for example, is both a primary contributor to OpenStack and a member of the Microsoft Azure Partner network.
In terms of broad adoption Neutron and OpenStack in general remain a work in progress. There should be much broader adoption of OpenStack in 2015. But for the most part usage of OpenStack is confined to cloud service providers that have standardized on Kernel-based virtual machines (KVM). The degree to which OpenStack gets used in support or VMware or Microsoft Hyper-V containers is debatable. In addition, it’s not clear to what degree OpenStack will be able to support Docker containers that have emerged as a lighter-weight approach to virtualization. Other factors in play also include to what degree manufacturers of networking equipment such as Cisco will support Neutron when they have already developed their own proprietary API frameworks.
The one thing that is for certain is that developers in 2015 will gain a lot more control over the network. But it’s not likely that achieving that control is going to be accomplished by mastering a single set of APIs that work across all cloud services.