Canadian OpenStack Users Group starts to hit its stride

Cloud computing has enabled a lot of people to experiment with web technologies who may not have tried them before due to the cost of entry. Edmonton now has a wealth of meetups for languages like Ruby, Python, Javascript, .NET, and Java, to name a few. There are design meetups, user experience meetups, and social media meetups. It makes sense for the people making clouds to meet up as well, especially due to the benefits of sharing information in such a new field, but it can be challenging to get that same experience you come to expect from other meetups in what'€™s comparatively still a very niche field. So it was great to see some of those qualities emerge in the second Canadian OpenStack Users Group meetup.

In addition to pizza, remote access helped. Yes, one of the best things about meetups is the face to face conversation, but with ever better telepresence technology, it makes sense to bring in as many people from as many places as possible. This time around, we were joined remotely by Ignace Mouzannar from eNovance, a Paris/Montreal-based company working with OpenStack, and Neil Jubinville, from Orbital Software Solutions right here in Edmonton (who also happened to be our winner of a $50 iTunes gift card at the end of the meetup —€“ congrats, Neil!). If you'€™re local and can'€™t make it to the exact location, remember you can always dial or Skype in!

This meetup was definitely more member driven and less structured than the inaugural one, which was great to see.

Everett Toews started things off with some discussion of hardware, a topic of interest that came up after the previous meeting. Cybera talked a bit about our new project that uses Dell 6220s for compute nodes along with Arista switches, but we quickly discovered that there'€™s a lot of diversity even among the meetup group members.

eNovance has found that HP G7s for compute nodes and Nortel switches (it was strange hearing the name mentioned, but apparently the switches have stood the test of time and can still be found out there) work well for their cloud. And while we had had issues with Dell switches, Neil'€™s Dell 6248s seemed to be working without a hitch. It reminded me of talk over the most reliable car brands: In the end, you have to go with experience and what matters the most to you and your company.

As the conversation morphed into other subjects, some really useful information was exchanged. Ignace and Curtis Collicutt (University of Alberta) both mentioned Super Micro as their best experience with IPMI interfaces. Cybera mentioned Joe Topjian'€™s work on Puppet and Cobbler scripts to make the installs of the Essex release of OpenStack go more smoothly.

There was some talk over different places to host the clouds we'€™re building, and Neil brought up some interesting points regarding the regional mindset of a lot of companies when it comes to their data — not only between countries, but even between provinces and regions within provinces. Finally, there was some initial discussion around performance testing of cloud infrastructures. Everett mentioned the performance comparison between the OpenStack DAIR cloud and Amazon'€™s EC2 cloud that was done by David Morais at Université de Sherbrooke in Quebec.

Along the way, we got to hear about Matt Delaney'€™s work with OpenStack and Chef to help deploy an OpenSim project and Curtis Collicutt'€™s work in building petabyte-scale storage for the University of Alberta digital archives. Apparently the Internet Archive turned out to be a good source for hardware specs for the latter (and worth noting that things really do live on the internet forever!),

It was great to find out what other people were doing with and without OpenStack, to add some colleagues in Montreal to the mix, and to see some new and old faces. I think we'€™re all looking forward to the next meetup.