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Rackspace Externship Retrospective

Spencer-headshot

I’m Spencer Martin, cellist, programmer, and now honorary Racker at the Racksburg offices. This last summer, I had the privilege of shadowing and learning from some of the smartest and most skilled programmers I’ve ever met. During my time at Rackspace, I was assigned to observe and work for two days with each of four different teams. I worked with a different team each week and was given a corresponding project for each team. My projects were educational in nature, and did not involve any Rackspace production code. Through my experiences at Rackspace, I’ve become a more experienced and well rounded programmer, and I’ve met a lot of tremendous people. Continue reading

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Racksburg Hosts Glance Mid-cycle Meeting

This week Racksburg is hosting the Glance Liberty mid-cycle meetup.

Rackspace_Cloud_Images_vert_clrThat sentence probably doesn’t make any sense without some background. “Glance” is the name of the OpenStack Image Service. “OpenStack” is the open-source cloud software project founded by Rackspace and NASA, and is the software used to run the Rackspace Next Generation public cloud. “Liberty” is the name of the twelfth OpenStack release. OpenStack works on a six month release cycle. Planning for the Liberty release began in May at the OpenStack Vancouver Summit, and the Liberty release will happen in October. So right now we’re in the middle of the Liberty release cycle. The teams working on the various OpenStack components are distributed throughout the world and hold weekly meetings on IRC, and while you can get a lot of work done on IRC, it’s helpful to have a face-to-face meeting in the middle of a release cycle to touch base about how well development is occurring and to discuss what needs to happen during the time remaining before the release date.

That’s what’s happening at Racksburg this week.

Attendees for the meeting are coming from as far away from Ireland. Companies represented include Rackspace, HP, IBM, Redhat, VMWare, and Johns Hopkins University.

The Glance project handles all virtual machine image cataloging, storage, and data transfer in an OpenStack cloud. It’s also the basis of the Rackspace Cloud Images product.

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Goodbye XML!

Goodbye-XML

If you’re a software developer working in the cloud, you’re probably aware that OpenStack (and the cloud industry in general) have moved away from supporting XML APIs. In fact, OpenStack has just eliminated XML support for the Compute v2 API in its latest “Kilo” release. In our quest at Rackspace to be as consistent as possible with upstream OpenStack, we are planning to follow suit. The last day of XML support in the Rackspace public cloud will be July 20, 2015.

But what about all the people who use XML?

There actually aren’t very many. In the Rackspace public cloud, only 0.2% of current Next Generation Cloud Servers API requests either pass XML in the request body or request XML responses.

Remember, we’re only talking about XML usage with the Next Generation Cloud Servers (Compute v2) API. You’re perfectly free to use XML in any other context you like, for example, as a data interchange format for messages sent among your fleet of cloud servers. We’re not making a moral judgement about XML usage, we’re just saying that you’ll no longer be able to pass it in a request body or ask for it as a response format when you communicate with the Rackspace Next Generation Cloud Servers API.

Dang! I’m using XML … what can I do?

If you’re using an SDK …

If you are using a cloud software development kit (SDK), please update it. The latest version should be able to communicate with all OpenStack clouds using the supported JSON serialization format.

If you’re using a custom script …

If you are using a custom script without an SDK, you’ll have to change your script to process JSON instead of XML. We strongly recommend, however, that you change your script to use one of the many available SDKs for various programming languages. The advantage to using an SDK is that it will expose a well-defined interface to your script, thereby making your script easier to maintain. You can find a list of SDKs that you can use to connect to the Rackspace cloud our developers’ website:

https://developer.rackspace.com/sdks/

If you like to do it by hand …

If you prefer to do things by hand, you’ll need to modify your scripts so that instead of sending XML, they’ll send JSON request bodies. The correct format for JSON requests can be found in the Compute API documentation. Be sure that your scripts specify “Content-type: application/json” in the request header.

You’ll also need to change your scripts to parse JSON responses. Again, the response format you can expect can be found in the Compute API documentation. Make sure that your request either contains no “Accept” header, or that it explicitly specifies “Accept: application/json” in the request header.

How easy a transition this will be depends upon what scripting language you are using. Some languages (Python, for example) handle JSON serialization/deserialization much more easily than others. If you need to do a major rewrite of your scripts, we strongly recommend considering using an SDK instead of a “raw” language … it will make upgrades much easier on you.

Could I be using XML without knowing it?

I’ve spoken with a few customers who were making XML requests without knowing it. In some cases, this is because they were using an older version of an SDK that still used XML. The most recent versions of currently maintained OpenStack SDKs don’t use XML, so an upgrade will fix this problem.

Goodbye XML!

In conclusion, mark July 20, 2015 on your calendar as the last day of XML support for the Rackspace Cloud Servers API. If you have questions or comments about this transition, feel free to post a comment in the Compute Feedback Forum.

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