Is the world uniting around OpenStack?

Speaking at the recent GigaOM Structure Connect event regarding OpenStack and private Clouds, Adrian Cockcroft expressed that “The marketing war for CIO mindshare has been won” – giving us further evidence that OpenStack is the recognized leading option for building open private clouds. Cockcroft also suggested that innovation will occur on top of OpenStack and this innovation will lead to fragmentation and incompatible stacks. 

It seems to me what is happening in the world of OpenStack is we have both rapid confluence  where OpenStack is being recognized as the leading open cloud platform, and a great deal of divergence or fragmentation is occurring as vendors seek to monetize OpenStack and the OpenStack eco-system expands.  

OpenStack is now the largest open source project in the world, so clearly the developer community, and increasingly mainstream IT has rapidly converged on OpenStack as a preferred platform and voted with their code contribution commits.  Forrester reported that OpenStack projects managed more than 17,000 patches in the just completed Icehouse release cycle. Wow, I’m not an expert but that is a massive volume of work.

Another interesting tidbit from the Forrester overview: more than 50% of the code commits for Icehouse were for scalability and performance enhancements to Nova and Cinder. This is very good news – in my past life working in the commercial enterprise software space I saw firsthand how these behind the scenes code enhancements for scalability and reliability pay off and are absolutely required for mainstream enterprises to adopt a technology. 

So it’s pretty clear that a large section of the developer world and all the major industry analysts have converged on OpenStack as “THE” open private cloud platform. But it’s not just the Linux dev crowd that has voted yes on OpenStack. Every major IT vendor – ALL of them – are actively engaged in embracing and extending OpenStack. Some for their own commercial interests, others for the pure marketing leverage they can get.   

For me, a data point that also illustrates confluence on OpenStack is that the non-IT world is also now recognizing OpenStack. Notably, the financial community is now taking notice and is tracking and assessing OpenStack for its potential to disrupt the enterprise software market space. Summarized here, a recent Citigroup research piece discusses the momentum behind OpenStack and how OpenStack may threaten key incumbents.

So, do you agree that the world has converged on OpenStack? While this OpenStack love-fest is going on, as Cockcroft points out, there is another trend well underway with respect to OpenStack. OpenStack is spawning rapid divergence of solutions and offers. 

There has been a small explosion in the number of OpenStack distributions being offered to the market and a rapid expansion of the number of professional service providers claiming to be “OpenStack Experts.” In addition, there are an expanding number of hosting and managed service providers playing the OpenStack card, and the OpenStack ecosystem of extensions and technology add-ons is accelerating momentum with darlings Ceph, Docker, and many others getting a LOT of attention these days.  

All of this is causing mainstream IT organizations to throw a red flag and say “Wait! Stop! We are confused!” This is totally understandable and not all that surprising given how early we are in OpenStack adoption.  Over time this divergence trend will abate as the industry coalesces – winners will emerge and the others will consolidate, adapt or just fade away – but this will take a few years to shake out.

So is the world uniting around OpenStack? Yes and no.

In the short term, we will all need to get smart on OpenStack and its ever evolving technology ecosystem, and we will all need to make decisions about adopting OpenStack with some calculated risk. Here at Dell we are continuing to select, design and deliver open standards based solution offerings that are affordable, approachable and straightforward to implement. We are working extremely closely with Red Hat and OpenStack, because we believe that when mainstream organizations look to adopt OpenStack they will look to Dell and Red Hat solutions to help clarify the options and enable innovation with lower risk. 

About the Author: Brent Doncaster

Brent Doncaster - Senior Strategist, Product Marketing Leveraging his 20+ years of technology experience into the creation of portfolio messaging for Dell EMC Cloud Solutions in support of global marketing campaigns and initiatives in Dell EMC’s Integrated Solutions Group. Twitter: @Brent_BWD