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Should I install the latest OpenStack release or not? 

Should I install the latest OpenStack release or not? 

With a history of regular releases, OpenStack has evolved through a series of alphabetically named versions, each packed with new features and improvements. As the community continues to innovate, the question arises: Should you install the latest OpenStack release or stick with an older version? In this article, we’ll explore key points about OpenStack releases and delve into factors to consider when making this crucial decision. Whether you seek cutting-edge features or prioritize stability, this guide will help you navigate the path to the ideal OpenStack version for your unique requirements. 

Notably, OpenStack commits to supporting their release versions for at least 18 months, often extending well beyond that timeframe, with twice-yearly release schedules. This means at any given time, at least three integrated releases receive support. So, should you install the latest OpenStack release or rather remain operating with an older version.  

Some key points about OpenStack releases 

Release Schedule: OpenStack follows a predictable release schedule with new versions coming out twice a year, in April and October. This regular release cadence allows users to plan their deployments and upgrades accordingly. 

Integrated Release: OpenStack is composed of multiple projects, each focusing on a specific aspect of cloud infrastructure (such as compute, networking, storage, identity, and more). The integrated release ensures that these projects are tested and released together, providing compatibility and interoperability between the components. 

Long-Term Support (LTS) Releases: Every year, one of the releases is designated as a long-term support (LTS) release, providing extended support and maintenance for a longer duration compared to regular releases. LTS releases receive bug fixes and security updates for at least 18 months, with some projects offering longer support periods. 

Release Naming Convention: Each release is named using an alliterative pair of words starting with the corresponding letter of the release series. The words are chosen through a community-driven process, often reflecting the local culture or unique themes. Starting with “Austin” for the first release and progressing through the alphabet with each subsequent version. Having gone through all the letters of the alphabet with the release of OpenStack Zed in 2022, OpenStack started over with the alphabet with the release of OpenStack Antelope earlier this year (2023).  

Upgrade Paths: OpenStack releases typically provide upgrade paths to smoothly transition from the previous release to the latest one. The OpenStack community provides documentation and tools to guide users through the upgrade process, ensuring minimal disruption to running deployments. 

Community Involvement: OpenStack releases are the result of collaborative efforts by a diverse community of developers, operators, and users. The OpenStack community actively contributes code, reviews proposals, tests releases, and provides valuable feedback, making the releases a collective achievement. 

What happens to older OpenStack versions? 

In addition to the major releases, OpenStack also maintains stable branches for older releases. These branches receive backported bug fixes and security patches to ensure that users running those versions continue to receive support. 

To stay up to date with the latest OpenStack releases, you can visit the official OpenStack website, which provides release notes, documentation, and information on the new features and improvements introduced in each release. 

OpenStack operators appreciate the ability to use older versions of the platform without the necessity of frequent upgrades. It also emphasizes the significance of OpenStack’s continuous integration (CI) and maintenance cycle as key factors that make it an appealing choice for users. Moreover, the OpenStack User Survey of 2022, reveals that a substantial majority of OpenStack installations are not on the latest version. In fact, less than 10 percent of OpenStack installations run the latest version.  

Should I install the latest OpenStack version? 

Deciding whether to run the latest OpenStack version or an older version depends on several factors, including your specific requirements, the maturity of the latest release, and your organization’s ability to manage upgrades. That said, it varies per use case.   

So, here are some considerations to help you make an informed decision: 

  1. Features and Bug Fixes: The latest OpenStack version usually introduces new features, performance improvements, and bug fixes. If your organization requires specific functionalities or has encountered issues in the older version that have been addressed in the latest release, upgrading might be beneficial. 
  2. Stability and Maturity: Newer versions may not be as stable or mature as older, well-established releases. Older versions have likely undergone more testing and real-world use, making them potentially more stable and reliable. If stability is a critical concern for your production environment, sticking with a well-tested older version could be a safer option. 
  3. Support and Security Updates: OpenStack’s policy typically provides support for a certain number of releases. Running an older version might mean that it is no longer receiving official updates, including security patches. If you prioritize security and require timely updates, you may want to consider upgrading to a supported release. 
  4. Compatibility: Consider the compatibility of your existing infrastructure, applications, and drivers with the latest OpenStack version. Upgrading to a newer release may require adjustments to configurations or code, potentially causing disruptions. Ensure that your ecosystem is compatible with the new version before making the switch. 
  5. Community and Ecosystem: The OpenStack community actively supports the latest releases, which means you can benefit from ongoing contributions, improvements, and community-driven enhancements. On the other hand, older versions may have a smaller active community, which could impact access to resources, knowledge, and support. 
  6. Deployment and Migration Efforts: Upgrading to a newer OpenStack version often involves careful planning, testing, and migration efforts. Assess the resources and expertise available in your organization to manage the upgrade process effectively. 

In conclusion

Ultimately, the decision to run the latest OpenStack version or an older version depends on your specific use case, risk tolerance, and priorities. Some organizations may opt for the latest features and innovations, while others prioritize stability and long-term support. Whichever version you choose, it is essential to thoroughly assess the impact of the decision on your environment and plan the upgrade process carefully. 

Our general advice is to run the -1 version. This way you have almost the newest release with possible fixes added and the most features. My experience is that that latest releases of OpenStack add somewhat less new features then in the past but are more stable than ever, and more easy to configure. 

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