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Python APIs: The best-kept secret of OpenStack

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OpenStack is an increasingly popular open source solution for deploying Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) clouds. OpenStack ships with a dashboard web app that works well for performing manual tasks, such as launching a single virtual machine (VM) instance, but if you want to automate your cloud-based tasks, you'll need to write scripts that can drive OpenStack.

Many users write either automation scripts directly against the OpenStack Representational State Transfer (REST) application programming interface (API) or shell scripts that invoke the command-line tools (for example, keystone or nova). But a better way exists to write OpenStack automation scripts in Python. All of the OpenStack services expose native Python APIs that expose the same feature set as the command-line tools. Unfortunately, not much documentation is available to describe how to use these APIs.

If you're a Python programmer, the Python APIs are much simpler to work with than command-line tools or the REST API. In this article, I demonstrate how you can use the native OpenStack Python APIs to automate common user and administrative tasks.

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