To avoid echo chamber, OpenStack must embrace competitive cloud ecosystem

Japanese Bullet Train View

I was in Japan before the Tokyo summit on a bullet train to Kyoto watching the mix of heavy industry and bucolic mountains pass by. That scene reflects an OpenStack duality: we want to be both a dominant platform delivering core cloud services and an open source values driven collective.

First, I fundamentally believe in the success of OpenStack as the open virtual infrastructure management platform.

I believe that we have solved the virtual compute/storage/network problem sufficiently to become the de facto open IaaS platform. While not perfect, the technologies are sufficient assuming we continue to improve ease of use and operational hardening. Pursing that base capability is my primary motivation for DefCore work.

I don’t believe that the OpenStack community is, or should try to become, the authority on “all things cloud.”

In the presence of Amazon, VMware, Microsoft and Google, we cannot make that claim with any degree of self-respect. Even newcomers like DigitalOcean have an undeniable footprint and influence. Those vendor platforms drive cloud ecosystems and technologies which foster fast innovation because there is no friction to joining their ecosystems and they are sufficiently large and stable enough to represent a target market. We’ve seen clear signs from Rackspace, HP and others that platform diversity improves cloud strength.

I continue to think we (OpenStack) spend too much time evaluating what is “in” or “out” of the project and too little time talking about what’s “on,” “under” and “with” the project like Kubernetes, Mesos, Docker, SDN, Hadoop and Ceph. That type of thinking creates distance between OpenStack efforts and the majority of the market.

What motivates the drive to an all open captive community? It’s the reasonable concern that critical parts of the infrastructure will become pay-to-play. For example, what if a non-OpenStack alternative to Heat Orchestration gained popularity for OpenStack implementers. Perhaps something that ran on Amazon also. That would create external pressure that would drive internal priorities. These “non-OpenStack” products would then have influence without having to contribute back to upstream.

Can we afford to have external entities driving internal priorities? Hell yes, that’s what customer adoption looks like.

OpenStack does not own the market sufficiently to create cloud echo chamber. The next wave of cloud innovation (my money is on container platforms) will follow the path of least resistance and widest adoption. We need to embrace that these innovations will not all be inside our community so that we can welcome them as part of our ecosystem. The community needs to find peace with that.

4 thoughts on “To avoid echo chamber, OpenStack must embrace competitive cloud ecosystem

  1. +1
    Much is made in the OpenStack community of being ‘part of OpenStack’. There are many incentives to start new projects despite there being plenty of external technologies that go a long way to solving the problems. Most end users are pragmatists and go with what works, not what vocal members of the OpenStack community push to further their agenda.The foundation should find a way to incorporate this into the Big Tent so only the fittest survive.
    Props to you for pushing DefCore to establish what OpenStack is and what it is not. 🙂


    • Mark, Thanks! Yes, I believe strongly in DefCore as a way to help address this. My concern is that big tent sends a chilling message to people who are in the ecosystem but want to stay outside the project tent (where most of the users are). Along those lines, we’ve created financial incentives for companies and individuals to upstream into OpenStack instead of collaborate with ecosystem projects (see Robert Collins


  2. Pingback: More Signal & Less Noise: my OpenStack Tokyo Restrospective | Rob Hirschfeld

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