Microsoft developing Hyper-V support for OpenStack

Microsoft is attempting to reintegrate support for Hyper-V back into OpenStack, months after the open source cloud-building project dropped support for the hypervisor in its latest release.

Microsoft has hired a full-time employee to cultivate a community to work on reintegrating and supporting Hyper-V in OpenStack. The hypervisor was initially supported in the project but was removed from it in the April release of the software, OpenStack officials said at the time, because of a lack of demand.

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The tech giant has not been secret about its intentions to support Hyper-V integration in OpenStack. Soon after Hyper-V was dropped by OpenStack, Microsoft Open Solutions group general manager Sandy Gupta wrote a blog post indicating that the company would be working to reintegrate support for Hyper-V back into OpenStack. Soon afterward, Microsoft hired Peter Pouliot, a former worker in Novell's Microsoft Integration Laboratory, who is now working full time drumming up support for Hyper-V integration back into OpenStack. His plan is to be ready in time to include Hyper-V support in OpenStack's next software release, named Folsom, scheduled for this fall, and then continue to develop the support and bring it to parity with other hypervisors, including KVM, Xen and VMware's.

Microsoft has notably not made investments to become a supporting member of the OpenStack project, though. In April, OpenStack scored some big-name contributors when IBM, Red Hat and Yahoo officially signed on to the movement, joining other "platinum" level sponsors including Rackspace, AT&T, Canonical and HP. Platinum members agree to invest $1.5 million toward the program during the next three years and they have dedicated staff members working specifically on OpenStack. There are dozens of other "gold"-level sponsors of the program, each of which has committed more than $50,000 to the project annually. Companies in this category include Cisco, Dell, NetApp and Piston Cloud Computing.

Pouliot says he doesn't know when, or if, Microsoft will join as an official OpenStack sponsor. "My primary goal is making sure we get [Hyper-V support] back in," Pouliot says. As for future commitments from the company, he says "anything's possible." In addition to Pouliot, he says Microsoft has hired former Rackspace developer Jordan Rinke on a part-time basis to help advance Hyper-V features in OpenStack. He also attended the OpenStack Design Summit after the Essex release, where he met other people interested in reintegrating Hyper-V support, he says.

So far, Pouliot and Rinke have worked to build up Hyper-V functionality within the code, including the ability to start, stop, pause, unpause, suspend, resume and attach or detach volumes. Pouliot says he holds regular meetings to discuss the code development and there is a small community of more than a dozen people around the world working on integrating Hyper-V support, including representatives from CERN, the European nuclear research organization. The group is working on "cleaning up" integration with the OpenStack Horizon project, which is the dashboard user interface. Pouliot says the most important step will be to have continuous integration (CI) of Hyper-V to ensure the support for the hypervisor stays with the project.

Pouliot says it will take time to continue to develop the community the support Hyper-V. "We need to get more interest, which will provide a business justification," he says. "It's been all positive though, it's moving in the direction it needs to move in and we're just focused on getting into Folsom and keeping with it."

Forrest Research VP James Staten says he's not hugely surprised to see Microsoft's deliberate attempts to reintegrate Hyper-V support into OpenStack, as evident by the hiring of Pouliot. Microsoft's goal is to have broad-ranging support for its products and having Hyper-V support in OpenStack advances that goal. "While Microsoft has its own private cloud stack, they want Hyper-V, and Windows server for that matter, to be a ubiquitously available and thus supported as widely as possible," he says.

Similarly, OpenStack is looking to become a one-stop shop for IaaS cloud resources, so it's in the project's interest to include support for all major hypervisors. Overall though, Staten says Microsoft investing in OpenStack, even if it is a minimal amount, highlights the momentum of the OpenStack movement. "Clearly OpenStack has reached a level of momentum that Microsoft needs to show commitment to it."

Network World staff writer Brandon Butler covers cloud computing and social collaboration. He can be reached at BButler@nww.com and found on Twitter at @BButlerNWW.

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