From its beginning in 2010 as a joint project from NASA and Rackspace, OpenStack has grown to have a global community of nearly 20,000 people worldwide working to create a massively scalable cloud operating system.
In April of this year, The OpenStack Foundation launched Icehouse, the project’s ninth major release. This has helped show a more mature and refined cloud operating system with a renewed focus on testing and stability. It also added a new focus on compatibility with third-party hardware and software configurations, as well as on supporting international languages (16 in total).
Icehouse also promoted OpenStack database service “Trove” as a core element after being “incubated” during the prior release, and there are new programs (with colorful names) also being incubated in this release including OpenStack Bare Metal (Ironic), OpenStack Messaging (Marconi) and OpenStack Data Processing (Sahara). Each of these programs is meant to improve a certain aspect of OpenStack, but also provide users more choices of different technologies to plug into their cloud.
The Strength of Community
The OpenStack Silicon Valley 2014 on Tuesday, September 16, will feature a broad cross-section of the OpenStack community from enterprises to coders and from academics to end-users. Speakers at the Mountainview, Calif., event include the likes of OpenStack Foundation executive director Jonathan Bryce, Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth, VMware CTO Networking of Martin Casado, and Cloudscaling CEO and co-founder Randy Bias.
And while overall, OpenStack’s community seems stronger than ever, OpenStack has lost some of its supporters in recent years. For instance, in June 2012, it came out that NASA had chosen Amazon Web Services over OpenStack. And Citrix, once a crucial supporter, has since chosen to focus on CloudStack, its own open-source cloud software.
However, Rackspace has remained a top contributing company, and other major contributors include Mirantis, Red Hat, IBM, HP, SUSE, OpenStack Foundation, eNovance, VMware and Intel. And companies like Samsung, Yahoo! and Comcast are using OpenStack in their operations, and contributing code upstream.
Overall, it seems like a net win.
Will OpenStack Stack-Up Against Competitors?
While many technologists are behind the idea of an open-source cloud operating system, OpenStack faces some stiff competition in the marketplace. It’s competing with other OpenSource projects like CloudStack, but also with commercial cloud platforms like Microsoft Azure, VMware and Amazon Web Services.
Users often don’t want to risk being locked into a particular set of technologies, and as different companies come out with distributions based on OpenStack and accompanying software, it’s important that these companies don’t lock-in customers to a particular cloud solution and give up one of their main points of difference.
Striking A More User-Friendly Path
To users, cloud services are often straightforward, simple, and elegant. Yet, many companies complain that behind the scenes it’s difficult to implement and manage a cloud service. In recent releases, new cloud management capabilities have helped make OpenStack easier to deal with, but software like Mirantis OpenStack Express 2.0 which is designed to launch a cloud from scratch.
Companies are also interested in building compatibility with other cloud services into their offerings. For instance, Eucalyptus System, which was recently bought by HP, features an OpenStack IaaS backend and is a favorite among many users because of its compatibility with AWS cloud services.
This year has been an enormous year for OpenStack, but also one in which it may be facing an identity crisis. According to research from 451 Group, marketplace that will be worth $1.7 billion in just two years, yet 73 percent of all OpenStack revenue currently comes from service providers with OpenStack-based public and private IaaS clouds. While DreamHost and Rackspace, and newcomers Anchor are web hosts that use OpenStack, many people see OpenStack as being designed to appeal more to enterprises.
It remains to be seen how OpenStack, as flexible as it is, can be both a platform for service providers as well as for enterprises.
These are some of the themes we’ll be looking at during the WHIR’s coverage of OpenStack Silicon Valley 2014 and through the coming months as OpenStack continues to develop.