As OpenStack celebrates its third anniversary on Friday, John Igoe, VP of Rackspace’s private cloud business, reflects on how far OpenStack has come since 2010

Rackspace Reflects on Three Years of OpenStack

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As OpenStack celebrates its third anniversary on Friday, John Igoe, VP of Rackspace’s private cloud business, reflects on how far OpenStack has come since 2010, and some of the difficulties and challenges that it faces as momentum picks up.

While Igoe has only been with Rackspace for the past three months, he worked with Jim Curry, senior VP and GM of Rackspace private cloud business, as OpenStack was being developed and has watched it evolve from a small community to an organization with 10,000 individual members from around the world.

One example of this growth is reflected in the attendance of the OpenStack summits, which take place twice per year. At the first summit ever, only 10 or 20 people showed up, Igoe says, but at the summit this coming fall in Hong Kong, around 4,000 people are expected to attend.

“I know at the last summit in Portland I had members of the international community calling me the week before, explaining to me that they couldn’t get tickets,” Igoe says. “People were getting on planes without tickets to the summit because even if they couldn’t buy a ticket, they felt that just by being in the same hotel, walking through the hallways and talking to OpenStack members, they would gain value.”

Hong Kong marks the first ever international location of the OpenStack summits, but Igoe says the organization has seen strong international presence at past summits including Santa Clara and Portland. Companies like eNovance in France, for example, are helping to lead OpenStack adoption in Europe, he says.

The Evolution of OpenStack

OpenStack as an organization has gone through three tipping points, Igoe says, the first of which was moving from a very technology-focused organization, to deciding how it should be governed, which resulted in the second tipping point: the move away from Rackspace to the creating an independent organization. This was a huge transition for the community, Igoe says.

The third tipping point as Igoe sees it is around adoption by users and offerings.

“In the early days it was mainly developers who came to the conference. Now there is a very healthy mix of developers, end-users, and people who operate OpenStack environments coming to the community, contributing to the community in a variety of ways,” he says.

OpenStack Service Provider Adoption

Igoe views Rackspace as different from other service providers that offer OpenStack-based clouds, in terms of its history with OpenStack but also the way it treats OpenStack within the organization. Rackspace, he says, runs the largest OpenStack public cloud and also contributes the most bug fixes back to the community.

“We think that the adoption in the service provider space is one of the big forces that driving the success of OpenStack,” Igoe says.

“More and more we see hosting providers, we see traditional telecom providers, and also new-age telecom providers and service providers coming into the community and adopting this as a foundational component to their technology strategy,” he says.

The Competitive Landscape of OpenStack

Competition, Igoe says, is arguably the biggest challenge moving forward with OpenStack.

“In an environment that is growing so fast, with such a commitment to openess, collaboration and non-proprietary strategies and technologies, how do you also maintain and encourage competition?” he asks.

“I think competition is healthy, I think it drives excellence and innovation, so it’s interesting for instance when you walk into a board meeting, and there are companies sitting there who outside of the meeting are competing with each other,” Igoe says. “They check their badges at the door and they begin to collaborate on what’s best for the OpenStack community. The board itself I think is really doing a good job of balancing. You need to have a competitive, commercial environment around OpenStack and you need to stay true to an open source environment.”

Indeed, within the last year especially, more and more services around OpenStack have started to emerge.

“I think as you move into the marketplace, there’s competition going on in the training space, there’s competition going on in the service space, there’s competition going on in the software space,” Igoe says. “One of the biggest things that worries me is that people will take the OpenStack core software, fork it, and begin to use it in a self-interest way to create a proprietary standard. That would be very bad for the community.”

What is Best for OpenStack?

When considering what is best for OpenStack, Igoe says the end user of OpenStack should always be top of mind.

“What’s best for the end user of Openstack should be primary interest of the community itself. Are we providing a piece of technology that solves a specific need in their environment, is that technology open and flexible, is that technology adaptable, and is that technology innovative on a regular cycle?”

Competition and continual sharing are also components that will best serve the ongoing developments around OpenStack, he says.

The Hybrid Cloud Opportunity

Rackspace, and OpenStack, Igoe says, are in a solid position to serve the needs of hybrid cloud users.

“We have offerings in all spaces and we have a constant growing demand of that type of cloud computing environment. It’s an environment that allows you to decide where to put your application for the greatest performance and the greatest return on investment,” Igoe says. “That is the IT deployment model of choice. That is the way IT resources will be consumed moving forward.”


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