Contrary to pundit expectations, OpenStack did not roll over and die during the keynotes yesterday.
In fact, I saw the signs of a maturing project seeing real use and adoption. More critically, OpenStack leadership started the event with an acknowledgement of being part of, not owning, the vibrant open infrastructure community.
Continued Growth in Core Areas
Practical reasons for running dedicated infrastructure (compliance, control and cost) make OpenStack relevant for companies and governments with significant budgets. There is also a healthy shared infrastructure (aka public cloud) market living in the shadow of the big 3 players. It’s still unclear how this ecosystem will make money for the vendors.
What do customers buy? Should the Core be free?
My personal experience is that most customers are reluctant to (but grudgingly do) buy distros for the core open technology. They are much more willing to pay for adjacencies like security, storage and networking.
Emerging Challenges from Adjacent Technologies
Containers and Kubernetes are making a significant impact on the OpenStack community. At points, the OpenStack keynote was more about Kubernetes than OpenStack. It’s also clear that customers want to use containers as an abstraction layer to make infrastructure less visible or locked-in. That opens the market for using servers directly (bare metal) or other clouds. That portability is likely to help OpenStack more than hurt it because customers can exit workloads from the Big 3 players.
Friction for adoption remains a critical hurdle.
Containers, which are cloud first platforms, have much less friction than IaaS platforms. IaaS platforms, even managed ones, require physical infrastructure with the matching complexity and investment.
OpenStack: an open infrastructure software community
Overall, the summit remains an amazing community space for open infrastructure software and cloud alternatives to the Big 3 players. The Foundation’s pivot to embrace Kubernetes and foster several other open technologies helps maintain the central enthusiasm for open source infrastructure that gave birth to the platform in the first place.
A healthy pragmatic vibe
The summit may not have the same heady taking-on-the-world feeling as the early days; instead, it has a healthy pragmatic vibe. Considering how frothy this space remains, that may be a welcome relief.
What are your impressions? I’m looking forward to hearing from you!