6 min read

If OpenStack had always appeared to be the trendy cloud solution, acclaimed and praised yet never quite taking hold over the software world’s popular imagination, the OpenStack Summit in Tokyo at the end of October marked its maturity. While it may have spent the past few years defining and setting the standard for what modern organizations could do with Cloud from the fringes, as 2015 draws to a close there’s no doubting that it is now a core part of the mainstream. This can only be good for an organization that has its sights set on becoming the key player in the market, but it also means new responsibilities and changing expectations. Maturity often means dealing with the crushing reality of ‘real life’, but OpenStack proved in Tokyo that this doesn’t have to mean you become boring…

Here’s 4 reasons why the OpenStack Summit proved that OpenStack has now come of age.

  1. OpenStack Certification

The announcement that The OpenStack Foundation, the non-profit organization that drives the OpenStack project, is going to set up certificated training for Cloud admins is a distinctive mark of maturity that is likely to cement OpenStack’s position within the market. Mark Collier, the foundation’s COO, explains “As OpenStack matures and enters bigger and bigger markets… what people typically want to do is really start to take the software and put it to use… They just want to operate it – and so that’s where we see the biggest impact in terms of skills.” The certification signals that the organization is trying to address a difficult and challenging reality – that there is a talent gap of knowledgeable and experienced Cloud admins. Of course, tackling this will be crucial to OpenStack both expanding and consolidating its use. Collier’s suggestion that this certification (which is due to be rolled out in 2016) is the first of many emphasises that OpenStack isn’t drawing away from its versatility as a cloud platform but is instead harnessing and refining it, so users can have more confidence and greater purpose.

  1. Project Navigator

Project Navigator neatly follows on from the OpenStack Foundation’s certification, as it is part of the same thematic trend – OpenStack’s movement towards giving users more control over their software. Essentially it will help users identify their key needs, and direct them towards products and services that most suit their needs. Built on a wealth of user data about what types of projects are built on what software, Project Navigator delivers really useful information in one accessible interface/dashboard. Whoever uses it will be able to see what other people are doing, and can then base their own decisions on a wider consensus of what works with what.

Project Navigator demonstrates that OpenStack is acutely aware of the huge range of its users’ needs, and, indeed, the potentially confusing scope of possibilities that OpenStack offers. Just as the certification provides a way of defining best practices and emphasising the core features of OpenStack from different user’s perspectives, Project Navigator similarly helps to define the different ways in which OpenStack can be used. But what’s most impressive about the project is that it’s managed to retain the Open Source values of openness and creativity. As Collier explained, because Project Navigator is driven by user data “we’re not really making a judgment call. It’s more just a reflection of where the market is”. What we have then, is a platform that speaks to the concerns of high-level technology strategists, making key organizational decisions, that doesn’t dictate how something should be done, but instead simply outlines what people are doing now.

  1. OpenStack Liberty

OpenStack Liberty was at the centre of October’s Summit. If the Summit represents a watershed moment in OpenStack’s lifespan, the 12th version of the cloud solution expertly demonstrates and underlines that the organization is listening to users and committed to tackling the key challenges that lie ahead. Adding role-based accessed to Neutron (OpenStack’s networking project that is often described as unnecessarily complex by critics) and Heat will, as ZDNet put it, “provide fine controls over security settings at all levels of the network and API.” The issue of scalability, too appears to be being tackled by Liberty, as the new version of cells set to become “the default way in which Nova is deployed”. Essentially, scaling will simply become a case of adding new cells to the single cell that makes up a Nova instance. (If you want a comprehensive look at what’s new in Liberty, Mirantis helpfully run through every single new feature, which you can read here.)

Liberty has been described as a move towards a ‘Big Tent’ model, whereby projects are brought together to become part of a more coherent whole. As Jonathan Bryce, the OpenStack Foundation’s Executive Director, explains, “With the Big Tent shift, it has allowed people within the OpenStack community to select different focus areas, so we’re seeing a lot of innovation.” Again, this move lets OpenStack emphasise the sheer range of possibilities on offer, while still putting forward a singular vision. Indeed, perhaps Bryce is being a little disingenuous – yes, it’s about letting people focus on what they want, but it’s likely that over time innovation will be driven by people looking at how different projects intersect and work together in new ways.

  1. Going International – OpenStack is growing outside of the U.S.

It’s significant that this October’s summit was held in Tokyo. Although the OpenStack user base is predominantly located in North America, with 44% of users based there, it’s worth noting that 28% of users are based in Asia, with Europe on 22%. Clearly, there is a lot of room for growth into these areas, but announcements such as the training certification and Project Navigator, positioned alongside improvements to the core OpenStack offering have been designed to do exactly that. Yahoo Japan provides a great case study of OpenStack being used on a large-scale outside of the U.S. Yahoo claim to be running more than 50,000 virtual machines on OpenStack – as Mark Collier points out, this means that there are just “A team of six running 10 billion page views”. It’s true that a single success story shouldn’t necessarily be taken as evidence of some wider trend – but the fact that OpenStack are so interested in talking about it provides a clear indication that they are looking for new stories to promote the project, which will help them reach out and engage new people.

For a comprehensive look at OpenStack, pick up the latest edition of OpenStack Cloud Computing Cookbook today. Packed with more than 110 recipes, it helps you properly get to grips with the platform so you can harness the opportunities it creates for more productive, collaborative and efficient working.

Co-editor of the Packt Hub. Interested in politics, tech culture, and how software and business are changing each other.


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