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5.0 out of 5 stars OpenStack Cloud Computing Cookbook, 25 Mar. 2013
This review is from: OpenStack Cloud Computing Cookbook (Paperback)
OpenStack Cloud Computing Cookbook
In the Slideshare presentation describing use of OpenStack at CERN Tim Bell recommends this book (slide 20 - Buy the book rather than Guru mentoring) .. and supplement by following mailing lists and participating in the OpenStack community .. and / or obtaining Enterprise support.
[...] That in my opinion is probably as good a recommendation as a book can get. I will, nevertheless, in this "little review" try and convey something of the "flavour" of the book and why I, in particular like it. The company I work for , First Technology Transfer, seems to be coping with the recession currently, despite the pathetic lack of help from the "Tory and Liberal public school and Oxbridge elite currently attempting to run this little island" for small and medium sized businesses, and even less help from the, oh so socially minded, banks, by being able to develop and deliver advanced highly tailored course that, typically, span multiple subjects e.g. in the case of OpenStack .. how might it be used together with Nginx and Python. [Well that's enough of the political soap boxing ... back to the book review]. Technical books such as those published by companies such as Packt are very helpful to us. They often can provide insights and ideas that we can merge with other reference materials and with some of our other course modules. To paraphrase Malvolio's "some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them" it can be said of technical books that "some are extended technical manuals, some are truly enlightening and can make complex technologies easier to understand, some are inspiration and provide delightful (in as much as technical topics can be considered delightful ... lets not discuss this here), and, some are inspirational and provide starting points for completely novel research and exploration initiatives.
This particular book provides the details expected of a well written manual and guidance on how to explore OpenStack based Cloud computing "in the privacy" of one's own, virtual, cloud. As many, wiser than I, have advised ... "get the basic system working first, understand it and then worry about scaling and tuning it". On top of this I might also add master the skills of doing "back of envelope calculations" so as to estimate the costs, risks and benefits of embarking on large scale cloud computing application deployment. If you look up the following links you will get an idea of what I am alluding to.
1.[...]
2.[...]a copy of Jon Bentley's famous "The Back of the Envelope" article published in his Programming Pearls series in the ACM. [Note: This paper is also included in Jon Bentley's Programming Pearls book (2nd Ed.) published by Addison Wesley in 1999]
If anyone has some nice Cloud Computing estimating scenarios and use cases with well thought out back of envelope calculations I would love to hear from you and study your examples.
In this book the emphasis is on "getting to know OpenStack" rather than getting to grips with "petabyte sized deployments". [Note: As an aside, if you plan on becoming an OpenStack guru you might care to investigate Rackspace's OpenStack certification program [...] (valid for 1 year at a price of $200.00 (US)), or you might simply follow the advice of the folks at Cern i.e. "get a good book and learn from your peers" ]

What comes across in this book is the extensive practical knowledge of the author. OpenStack is a complex product built out of many parts. Each part comes with a fairly hefty learning curve, which can be somewhat discouraging for a novice. If you think configuring and administering Apache is hard then "think again", OpenStack is a much tougher proposition. In this book the mysteries of installing the various elements that make up OpenStack are covered in sufficient detail as to make it quite clear how these various components fit together. Although one might quibble about the order in which these various parts are covered e.g. should OpenStack networking be covered before OpenStack Compute administration such quibbles are purely a matter of "personal taste". This moderately hefty tome covers pretty nearly everything one might expect to have covered
Installation and administration of OpenStack Compute
The Keystone OpenStack identity service
OpenStack storage - installation, usage and administration ( a "meaty" topic covered in an agreeably digestible way")
Glance (the OpenStack Image service ) - not images as in "pictures" but a service that makes it possible to register, discover, and retrieve virtual machine images
Nova volumes - a persistent storage that can be attached to running OpenStack Compute instances - so that the data persists (does not disappear) when the instances are terminated
Horizon - the Open Stack Dashboard - which provides a GUI (Graphical User Interface) [ for those that like such things ] for managing OpenStack environments and instances.
OpenStack networking - essential for administrators and support staff working for ISPs that provide an OpenStack hosting service [ Although this might not be everybody's point of view I felt that this section needed expanding]
Provisioning, monitoring and troubleshooting - tools and case studies. This is a vast topic and I sympathise with the hard job both author and editor must have had in selecting a representative yet reasonably comprehensive collection of tools and examples. These include MAAS (Metal As A Service), Galera (for MySQL clustering) [ personally I would have gone for PostgreSQL ... but that's just my own preference]. HAProxy for load balancing [ Load balancing is a complex subject and I would have appreciated some coverage of Nginx, if only because my company FTT [...]has developed and delivered several Nginx courses over the past 6 months and are working on an Nginx module for our upcoming OpenStack courses], Munin and Collectd for monitoring instances, StatsD/Graphite for monitoring the storage service and Hyperic for monitoring MySQL [ Here I learned some useful things as I have not experimented with StatsD or Hyperic before]
The last section , on troubleshooting was disappointingly thin. Maybe an OpenStack Troubleshooting Cookbook will provide a more extensive set of examples, heuristics and guidelines.
Overall I rate this book highly. "Gripes wise" - as a consultant, teacher and course developer I am very keen on diagrams, and this is probably my major gripe concerning this book "Not Enough Diagrams"
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