Project goal

CERN’s cloud infrastructure is among the world’s largest private OpenStack installations. CERN and Huawei therefore have a common interest in driving and enhancing the development of OpenStack for large-scale applications. Work in this project is being carried out through the community processes of OpenStack, with the results being fully open source.

R&D topic
R&D Topic 1: Data-centre technologies and infrastructures
Project coordinator(s)
Tim Bell
Technical team members
Theodoros Tsioutsias, Surya Seetharaman, Spyridon Trigazis, Belmiro Moreira
Collaborator liaison(s)
Stephan Keuneke


Project background

It is important to ensure that the management system used for allocating CERN’s computing resources is as efficient as possible and enables scientists to gain access to resources on a simple, self-service basis. By running common software based on OpenStack — both in on-premises and commercial clouds — we can meet the end users’ needs for LHC Run 3 and beyond in an efficient and seamless manner. The enhancements we make will be submitted upstream and included in future releases of OpenStack, meaning that they will be available for use both in CERN’s private, on-premises cloud and in products from Huawei based on OpenStack.

Recent progress

The project was launched in March at the CeBit conference in Hannover, Germany, with development work then beginning during the third quarter of 2017. The two main focus areas have been OpenStack Cells v2 and pre-emptible instances.

Cells provides a way to build large clouds out of pools of resources; an initial, experimental implementation of this tool has been used at CERN since the in-house cloud went into production in 2013. The new version being developed by the community, Cells v2, will become the default for all OpenStack clouds. It is therefore important to carry out careful design work and rigorous testing, to ensure the code is production ready.

The use of pre-emptible instances in OpenStack makes it possible for users to create virtual machines that can be rapidly stopped if higher priority work arrives, thus enabling CERN’s computing resources to be managed more efficiently.

Next steps

With development activities now underway, the plan is to complete Cells v2 functionality and to deploy it in production at CERN during 2018. For pre-emptible instances, a demonstration is planned for the OpenStack summit in Vancouver, Canada, in May 2018. These enhancements would also be potentially available for inclusion in commercial cloud products, such as Huawei’s Fusionsphere.


  • T. Bell, OpenStack at scale (20 March), Presented at CeBit 2017, Hannover, 2017.
  • V. E. Araujo Soto, Application Catalog for Openstack (15 August), Presented at CERN openlab summer students’ lightning talks, Geneva, 2017.
  • J. van Eldik, Clouds at CERN (5 September), Presented at Huawei Connect, Shanghai, 2017.
  • T. Bell, Huawei OpenStack Clouds (21 Seprember), Presented at CERN openlab Open Day, Geneva, 2017.
  • T. Bell, Clouds at CERN (26 September), Presented at OpenStack days UK, London, 2017.
  • T. Bell, Clouds at CERN (26 October), Presented at Huawei Connect Europe, Berlin, 2017.