Of the many interesting things popping up in the OpenStack ecosystem, the advent of the App store for OpenStack environments is high on my list of cool features. We can undoubtedly say that the Apple product ecosystem finds success in a large part because of the supporting application environment that feeds its App Store. While everyone is mulling over the potential path towards the private cloud, the OpenStack supporters are leading the way with this exciting tool.
Standardization and Blueprints
How many times have you looked at a hardware or software product and thought, how would we deploy our application into this? The rise in popularity of "reference architectures" is not happening in a bubble. The reason that reference architectures have become a popular item is because they illustrate a working design to solve a business problem. It could be VDI on hyperconverged hardware, Mesos on cloud platforms, Docker hosted web applications, or many, many more options. The drive further up the stack to the applications is precisely what many have been waiting for to be able to evaluate OpenStack as a viable platform for their organization.
Getting to the OpenStack app catalog is as easy as browsing online to http://apps.openstack.org/ through your browser. The apps are neatly organized by Murano packages, Heat templates, and Glance images.
The use of the three categories is helpful to show the flexibility of the platforms being offered. There are already a number of applications in each of the areas of the catalog, with more popping up each week.
Whether it is a full instance template you will want to import into Glance, or something more application-specific in a Heat or Murano build, the catalog is a great place to start. Using the applications as the driver to bring OpenStack further ahead is bound to be helpful in my opinion. One of the reasons that Amazon achieved a strong backing, other than being nearly the only public cloud offering, was the partner ecosystem who provided application and instance images into the Amazon catalog.
The move toward standardization around the DefCore initiative, and the increase in resources like the App Catalog are very positive steps. OpenStack still holds tightly to its open source roots, but at the same time, providing some standards and boundaries are necessary to give more comfort to a lot of potential OpenStack consumers who prefer a more "packaged" tool.
Built for us, by us
One thing to note is that this is a community catalog, so in the same way that every part of OpenStack is community driven, the upkeep and maintenance of the OpenStack App Catalog is community based as well.
For those who want to contribute, you simply use the Github repo hosted by Stackforge and follow the instructions provided at the OpenStack wiki on how to contribute. Perhaps we may even see the project will actually be rolled into the official OpenStack repositories in the future as adoption increases and the community supporting it grows even more.
So, in a couple of years when we look back on the origins of OpenStack, we can always quote the popular phrase "there's an app for that".