First meeting of the Canadian OpenStack Users Group

Last week, we held the inaugural meet-up of the Canadian OpenStack Users Group at the University of Alberta. Cybera has been working with OpenStack for more than 18 months now, and have been wanting to share more of our knowledge with a larger audience, and to find out what others are doing with OpenStack or other cloud technologies. We wanted to start giving something back to the community.

Everett Toews presented a quick walk-through of the OpenStack architecture, describing its components, their relationship to one another, and the process flow. OpenStack has grown since we first encountered it, and its complexity can be a bit daunting at first. The walk-through set the stage for the rest of the presentation.

There's no better way to learn a new tool than to pick it up and start using it, so one of the goals in our presentation was to show everyone how to build their own cloud to start tinkering with. We demonstrated a fully functional OpenStack cloud —€” complete with dashboard and all the services —€” running in a single Amazon Web Services virtual machine. This configuration of OpenStack is intended for developers, so it's quick and easy to set up, and does not require much hardware. In fact, it's typically run on a laptop! We encouraged people to try it out for themselves; using the scripts included in our presentation, anyone can set up this cloud-within-a-cloud in under 20 minutes.

In the six weeks since the group was formed the membership has grown considerably. But we had never held an event like this before, and so weren't sure what to expect (or who would attend). Our group was small, but fairly evenly split between researchers and developers looking for new tools. One attendee was more interested in object storage than in compute power —€” we were happy to hear this, as object storage sometimes seems like a bit of a wallflower compared to the more glamorous and dazzling compute side. We have committed to making Swift object storage the subject of a future meet-up to dive further into this topic for those interested.