Well you look different: Apache CloudStack 4.15 lands with new UI, improved access control


Apache CloudStack (CS), the Apache Software Foundation’s cloud infrastructure project, has pushed out new long term support version 4.15, providing users with a new UI, various VMware-related improvements and a way to define role based users in projects.

The software was originally developed in 2008 at what soon became Cloud.com, a start-up that was bought by Citrix in 2011. The infrastructure as a service platform was accepted into the Apache Incubator in 2012 and graduated its process in 2013. Customers include Verizon, TomTom, SAP, Huawei, Disney, Cloudera, BT, Autodesk, and Apple.

Among the more important changes of the latest release is a new global setting called “expose.dns.externally”, which finally gives users a way of limiting DNS queries to hosts on the shared network guest subnet. This is meant to help protect the DNS services that a virtual router provides from being accessible to the internet at large, which can become an issue in shared networks that need to use public IP addresses. The default value of the setting is true for backward compatibility, so changing it to false and recreating related virtual routers should do the trick.

With regard to access management, the handling of project memberships has been improved to allow admins to add individual users to projects, as well as to assign them specific roles with limited operations available. Earlier versions only allowed the addition of accounts and led to some problems by displaying the same set of actions to everyone.

Secondary storage management has been another cause of problems for some time, which is why devs doubled down on creating adequate features in CloudStack 4.15. In CS, secondary storage pools are home to things like volumes, snapshots, and templates. All of these need to be moved or decommissioned from time to time, which are now helped by new functionalities for migrating data objects among storage pools. Other additions have been designed to automatically balance image stores or make them read-only.

According to the release notes, VMware-related enhancements feature heavily in this CS version, which might be because things like vSphere have changed quite a bit since support was introduced into the project. The new release has played catch-up by supporting more of vSphere’s advanced storage capabilities (ways to use storage policies for example) as well as OVF properties to support the deployment of virtual appliances to a CloudStack cloud. 

The most visible change to CS is the project’s new user interface, which has been in the works for some time under the Project Primate moniker. According to its creators, the change was necessary to get the UI back into a manageable state and make it easier to extend. The updated look is also meant to help those familiar with other cloud interfaces to get going with CloudStack by making it more intuitive to use. Users who have grown accustomed to the legacy UI will no doubt need to familiarise themselves with the new interface and start planning their migration, as the old one will be removed with the next release.

CS developers also used version 4.15 to teach CloudStack how to work with CentOS 8, Ubuntu 20.04, XCP-ng 8.1, and MySQL 8 but if all these features do nothing for you, the latest release also includes a few fixes for bugs that could potentially be used to access private information. 

Before updating, teams using CentOS or GNU/Linux distributions with the latest OpenSSH package should however check the documentation, as they may need to install some additional packages or apply a workaround for everything to work as intended.