Renewing Focus on Bringing OpenStack to the Masses
This is a duplicate of a blog I authored for SUSE, originally published at the SUSE Blog Site.
Happy Newton Release Week!
This 14th release of OpenStack is one we’ve all been anticipating, with its focus on scalability, resiliency, and overall user experience – important aspects that really matter to enterprise IT organizations, and that help with broader adoption of OpenStack with those users.
(More on that later.)
Six years of Community, Collaboration, and Growth
I was fortunate enough to have been at the very first OpenStack “meeting of the minds” at the Omni hotel in Austin, back in 2010, when just the IDEA of OpenStack was in preliminary discussions. Just a room full of regular everyday people, across numerous industries, who saw the need for a radical new open source cloud platform, and had a passion to make something happen.
And over the years, we’ve seen progress: the creation of the OpenStack Foundation, thousands of contributors to the project, scores of companies throwing their support and resources behind OpenStack, the first steps beyond North America to Europe and Asia (especially with all the OpenStack excitement in India, China, and Japan), numerous customers adopting our revolutionary cloud project, and on and on.
Power to the People
But this project is also about our people.
And we, as a community of individuals, have grown and evolved over the years as well – as have the developers, customers and end users we hope to serve with the project. What started out with a few visionary souls has now blossomed into a community of 62,000+ members from 629 supporting companies across 186 countries.
As a member of the community, I’ve seen positive growth in my own life since then as well. I’ve been fortunate to have been part of some great companies – like Dell, HPE, and now SUSE. And I’ve been able to help enterprise customers solve real problems with impactful open source solutions in big data, storage, HPC, and of course, cloud with OpenStack.
And there might have been one other minor area of self-transformation since those days as well, as the graphic illustrates…
Clearly we – the OpenStack project and the OpenStack people – are evolving for the better.
So Where Do We Go From Here?
In 2013, I was able to serve the community by being a Director on the OpenStack Foundation Board. Granted, things were still fairly new – new project ideas emerging, new companies wanting to sponsor, developers being added by the day, etc – but there was a personal focus I wanted to drive among our community.
“Bringing OpenStack to the masses.”
And today, my hope for the community remains the same.
While we celebrate all the progress we have made, here are some of my thoughts on what we, as a community, should continue to focus on to bring OpenStack to the masses.
Adoption with the Enterprise by Speaking their Language
Take a look at the most recent OpenStack User Survey. It provides a great snapshot into the areas that users need help.
- “OpenStack is great to recommend, however there’s a fair amount of complexity that needs to be tackled if one wishes to use it.”
- “OpenStack lacks far too many core components for anything other than very specialized deployments.”
- “Technology is good, but no synergies between the sub-projects.”
2016 data suggests that enterprise customers are looking for these sorts of issues to be addressed, as well as security and management practices keeping pace with new features. And, with all the very visible security breaches in recent months, the enterprise is looking for open source projects to put more emphasis on security. In fact, many of the customers I engage with love the idea of OpenStack, but still need help with these fundamental requirements they have to deal with.
Designing / Positioning OpenStack to Address Business Challenges
Have you ever wondered why so many tall office buildings have revolving doors? Isn’t a regular door simpler, less complex, and easier to use? Why do we see so many revolving doors, when access can be achieved so much simpler with other means?
Because revolving doors don’t exist to solve access problems – they solve a heated-air loss problem.
When a door in a tall building is opened, cold air from outside forces it’s way inside when doors are open, pushing warmer / lighter air up – which is then lost through vents at the top of the building. Revolving doors limit that loss incredibly by sealing off portions of outside access when rotating.
Think of our project in the same way.
- What business challenges can be addressed today / near-term by implementing an OpenStack-based solution?
- Beyond the customer set looking to build a hosted cloud to resell, what further applications can OpenStack be applied to?
- How can OpenStack provide an industry-specific competitive advantage to the financial sector? To healthcare? To HPC? To the energy sector? How about retail or media?
Address the Cultural IT Changes that Need to Happen
I recently read a piece where Jonathan Bryce spoke to the “cultural IT changes that need to occur” – and I love that line of thinking.
Jonathan specifically said “What you do with Windows and Linux administrators is the bigger challenge for a lot of companies. Once you prove the technology, you need policies and training to push people.”
That is spot on.
What we are all working on with OpenStack will fundamentally shift how IT organizations will operate in the future. Let’s take the extra step, and provide guidance to our audiences on how they can evolve and adapt to the coming changes with training, tools, community support, and collaboration. A good example of this is the Certified OpenStack Administrator certification being offered by the Foundation, and training for the COA offered by the OpenStack partner ecosystem.
Further Champion the OpenStack Operator
Operators are on the front lines of implementing OpenStack, and “making things work.” There is no truer test of the validity of our OpenStack efforts than when more and more operators can easily and simply deploy / run / maintain OpenStack instances.
I am encouraged by the increased focus on documentation, connecting developers and operators more, and the growth of a community of operators sharing stories on what works best in practical implementation of OpenStack. And we will see this grow even more at the Operator Summit in Barcelona at OpenStack Summit (details here).
We are making progress here but there’s so much more we can do to better enable a key part of our OpenStack family – the operators.
The Future is Bright
Since we’re celebrating the Newton release, the quote from Isaac Newton on looking ahead is seems fitting…
“To myself I am only a child playing on the beach, while vast oceans of truth lie undiscovered before me.”
When it comes to where OpenStack is heading, I’m greatly optimistic. As it has always been, it will not be easy. But we are making a difference.
And with continued and increased focus on enterprise adoption, addressing business challenges, aiding in the cultural IT change, and an increased focus on the operator, we can go to the next level.
We can bring OpenStack to the masses.
See you in Barcelona in a few weeks.
Until next time,