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OpenStack summit - the community perspective

Chris Middleton Profile picture for user cmiddleton November 4, 2014
Away from the main stage at the OpenStack Foundation Summit in Paris, companies in the OpenStack ecosystem see a new maturity within the community.

The OpenStack Foundation summit in Paris this week has been the first such European event and as such something of a test-bed for future events.

Away from the main stage and out in the wider OpenStack community, diginomica sought out some partner organizations to get their impressions of both the conference and indeed the progress of OpenStack itself.

Asked whether he's  noticed anything different about OpenStack's first European event, Dave Wright, CEO of storage vendor SolidFire, says he sees a difference in maturity and commitment among attendees:

It seems like that at the last few US events, people were coming to summits to figure out what OpenStack was.

But it seems like everyone here that I talk to is using OpenStack. Some are here to get it more production ready, but they're using it. They're committed to it.

For its part, SolidFire is an OpenStack veteran:

We've been part of OpenStack for three years now, and the biggest contribution that we've made is there wasn't an OpenStack project around block storage, around primary storage. It was just swift object storage, capacity.

So we broke out our storage component Nova into a separate block storage project, Cinder, and have been shepherding that along so that every storage vendor can plug into that and support OpenStack. Literally dozens of storage vendors now support Cinder.

The advantage for SoldFire and the 90 other vendors here lies in mindshare among a new generation of customers that increasingly see open source development within cloud deployments as an essential component across their IT strategies.

It also lies in helping a broad range of OpenStack users move from the sandbox to the live production environment.

An increasing number of vendors share customers' views, as explored in our previous report. Away from the OpenStack summit itself, vendors such as Intel are now insisting on OpenStack messages being included in their mainstream marketing materials.

Tip of the hat

Another significant brand playing the 'business messaging' game is RedHat. One of the foremost Linux distributors at the turn of the millennium, RedHat has found itself adrift in the new century as open source development becomes a much bigger movement than the OS.

This is may be one reason why it has brought on board former Gartner analyst Alessandro Perilli, a one-man magic quadrant who is now general manager of RedHat's cloud management strategy – product features, roadmap, the works.

So is he essentially a messaging fixer: an example of the wider OpenStack trend playing out within one company? He says:

In the early days I helped the company adjust a little bit, how to tell the story, how to align the engineering and business teams to be sure that the products converge around the story.

After seven months, that work was pretty much done, the story is there, the narrative is there, so now I've been moved to the management business unit.

But there is a serious point behind the messaging, both within RedHat and within the OpenStack community itself. Perilli explains:

Gartner called this world 'bi-model IT', the old world and the new world that need to co-exist. The key is when you embrace the old world and the new world you embrace server virtualisation and infrastructure as a service, you embrace private cloud and public cloud, and there are two ways to do all this.

The easy way, on the surface, is to say 'these are two different silos, these are two different management capabilities'. But that's not hybrid in any possible way. Hybrid means having a consistent management layer that pulls together these different 'buckets' and maintains the same policies.

Perilli's point is simple: OpenStack really is about the need for good management and sound business sense.

A polished, business-friendly message on the surface, perhaps, but it's a message that describes what should be happening deep within the organisation: a consistent technology management vision and strategy playing out across both user organisations and open source vendors/contributors.

Today that may all be the same enterprise.

My take

A well-received inaugural event.  Next year's summits are in Vancouver and Tokyo, but OpenStack hints that the success of this first European conference will encourage them to return in 2016, either to Paris or perhaps to Berlin, Dublin or Barcelona. (A London event is unlikely, because of the lack of comparable mid-sized auditoriums with hotels and exhibition spaces attached.)

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