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Eric Wright

OpenStack: 4 Years, 10 Releases, and 1 Revolution

Interested Crowd at OpenStack Summit ParisOver the course of the last couple of years now, I’ve been spending a lot of time working with OpenStack in various ways. Through work done with the community to help bring more focus to OpenStack, and to open up eyes to the power of what it is doing for us as consumers of IT services.

OpenStack: 4 Years, 10 Releases, and 1 Revolution

Well, revolution may be an overstatement, but it is fair to say that there is a fundamental shift in the industry, which is facilitated by what OpenStack has brought to us. From its roots as a share project with NASA and Rackspace, OpenStack has grown significantly in both its capabilities and its reach across organizations.

The reason it has done this is very important. This is also why I have been presenting a slide deck at the VMware User Group sessions a lot, which is titled “Why OpenStack?”

Let’s explore that to see the importance of that question.

Why OpenStack?

The fundamental reason that technology exists is to enhance an existing process that is typically people-based. Technology for the sake of technology has a limited shelf life because it doesn’t answer a specific business need. I like to think of it as business drives technology, which in turn drives business. That order is specific.

Before we look at the “What?” of any technology such as “What can it do?” or “What does it produce?”, we have to understand the “Why?”. Understanding why something exists is fundamental in proving the business value it provides. Remember that this is the whole reason that these technology products exist.

OpenStack began an enabling technology that was built with strong focus to answer the need for on-demand virtual resources accessible by developers. That core has held strong and the growth in the programs to support OpenStack have maintained that tenet of on-demand, API-accessible resources to drive applications through virtual resources.

No More Pets versus Cattle

The long-standing description of how cloud deployments differ from traditional application deployment is the oft-compared “pets versus cattle”. This is showing that traditional applications and servers were treated as pets, and a modern scale-out application is more like nameless, utilitarian cattle.

I use this reference mostly to show how the industry has evolved to recognize that there is not a clear divide between these two descriptions. Many enterprise organizations are beginning to embrace cloud methodologies and change the culture of development to utilize more scale-out, N-Tier deployments. As the shift towards this application deployment style occurs, OpenStack and similar enabling technologies become much more viable, and important.

The divide between application-centric companies and traditional IT organizations is becoming less and less with each passing year. There are many who say that every organization will become a technology organization within a few years or else they risk being pushed out of the market.

OpenStack is for the world, not versus the world

Another challenge within the technology ecosystem is the comparisons against other products such as VMware vCloud, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure among others. OpenStack is different in many ways than any of its supposed competitors, but there is not an apples-to-apples comparison truthfully.

OpenStack as an overall product ecosystem has features and capabilities that can be individually compared to other products in the market. There are also distinct reasons why the programs have been built to be loosely coupled and independent in many ways. Parts of OpenStack can be productized such as Swift (Object Storage) and others can be deployed in smaller scale to achieve a specific purpose.

The flexibility of OpenStack as a product set gives it a very interesting value to the industry and to its customers. This is why OpenStack is often viewed as almost hydra-like with many heads that can each operate independently. This could particularly important as OpenStack is pitted against other software and infrastructure tools in the coming months and years.

Private Cloud is the new Cloud

Despite resistance by many that the only clouds should be public clouds, many organizations are embracing cloud methodologies while using on-premises deployments to maintain privacy, or to leverage their existing capital investment in high-performance data center equipment.

There are powerful use-cases for private clouds that preclude the use of public cloud resources, and this has become generally accepted now. Commercial offerings are available from companies such as Red Hat, Mirantis, and recently EMC, HP, and soon to be VMware as examples. This is adding to the potential for significantly increasing the adoption of OpenStack to add value to businesses.

Is OpenStack in your plan?

At a recent online forum hosted by TechGenix, I presented a presentation called OpenStack for Enterprise: The Tipping Point Cometh. The presentation was recorded and can be watched below, so I hope that this gives a good introduction into some of my thoughts on how the shift towards enterprise adoption is coming for OpenStack and the open cloud environment.

Where many may have considered it a science experiment in the past, there are stories coming out daily about new and growing installations of OpenStack around the world. With the OpenStack Summit in Paris hosting a massive crowd, and the Juno release being the most active of the 10 releases, there is no doubt about the increasing velocity of OpenStack in one way or another.

If you aren’t already looking at the viability of OpenStack for your environment, it definitely should be. If you were looking for help to discover how to start your journey with OpenStack, feel free to reach out to me, and my team here at VMTurbo ( and we would love to talk about what we are doing with OpenStack to enable your business.

Cloud CON 2014 Session VMTurbo OpenStack for Enterprise: The Tipping Point Cometh from Turbonomic on Vimeo.

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