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Why floating IP?

In a conventional virtual machine system like VMware or VirtualBox, a network interfaces is either bridged or NATed. This is easy to understand. You IP is assigned by external DHCP server (bridging case) or VM software (NATting case). However, the situation for OpenStack is not so easy to follow - why a private IP (mine is 172.x.x.x) which is apparently assigned by OpenStack and then a floating IP? Why not straight forward NATting? What problem is this trying to solve? What is the benefit?

Why floating IP?

In a conventional virtual machine system like VMware or VirtualBox, a network interfaces is either bridged or NATed. This is easy to understand. You IP is assigned by external DHCP server (bridging case) or VM software (NATting case). However, the situation for OpenStack is not so easy to follow - why a private IP (mine is 172.x.x.x) which is apparently assigned by OpenStack and then a floating IP? Why not straight forward NATting? What problem is this trying to solve? What is the benefit?