OpenStack Cloud Software (logo source: OpenStack.org)
Everyone is talking about moving to the cloud and all of the cost and efficiency advantages that cloud computing can provide for IT. However for many enterprises, a move to the cloud is easier said than done due to concerns about security, control and lack of flexibility when moving to public clouds from vendors like Amazon, Google and Microsoft. In addition to the concerns about public clouds, many of the frameworks for deploying private clouds have not been robust enough to support the needs of enterprise applications and users. OpenStack came into the picture six years ago with a set of open source technologies to enable private clouds within a datacenter. However, up until recently, the OpenStack project had limitations that prevented it from being ready for enterprise consumption. In fact by some estimates, a large percentage of enterprise users failed when attempting to implement OpenStack, and most users found the implementation experience difficult.
Industry leaders including Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Huawei, IBM, Intel, Rackspace Hosting and Red Hat have invested significant time and resources into making OpenStack enterprise-ready. However, it is only recently that OpenStack has reached a tipping point to be truly equipped for deployment by a broad base of IT organizations. Jimmy Pike and I recently published a paper detailing the history of OpenStack and the community’s key focus areas that now make the platform ready for enterprise adoption. Below are the 3 reasons why we believe OpenStack is now ready for use by mainstream enterprise IT. (You can download our full paper here.)
1. OpenStack Technology Has Come a Long Way in 6 Years
OpenStack technology has evolved considerably since the project’s inception. The initial “Austin” release in 2010 included just two core services, while the “Mitaka” release in first half of 2016 included six core and sixteen optional services. Early releases were designed for early adopters like software development and research / engineering organizations who have the expertise to handle some of the shortcomings generally seen with open source code. However, the first several product releases lacked the stability and feature sets required for broad scale enterprise use. Stability has improved considerably now that each of the core projects has been under active development for at least four years. In addition, focused efforts have been put in place to build in features required by enterprises such as enhancements to the installation and deployment process, support for high availability services and capabilities that make upgrades simpler.
2. The OpenStack Community and User Base Have Matured
One thing undeniable, OpenStack has that essential element that will lead to its success: the support of the users. The OpenStack community has flourished into a strong group of individuals and companies contributing to the various projects and source code improvement initiatives. Ongoing OpenStack code development now includes contributions from thousands of individuals and hundreds of organizations. IT organizations in government, media, retail, finance, consumer goods, manufacturing and technology are now among those moving beyond evaluations and pilots to adopt OpenStack-based clouds as a strategic initiative to support the business. The community has banded together to improve the processes for bug fixes, release management and product planning for future releases. In addition, the OpenStack Foundation and its members are working to solve the OpenStack skills shortages in the marketplace via broader accessibility to training and certification programs.
3. Industry Leading Vendors Are Filling in the Gaps
As is true with many open source communities, OpenStack relies on corporate industry leaders to make investments and provide resources to help grow the community and market acceptance of the OpenStack operating system.Industry leaders including Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Huawei, IBM, Intel, Rackspace Hosting and Red Hat have invested significant time and resources into making OpenStack enterprise-ready. These vendors, along with many others, contribute resources to do the “nuts and bolts” work of code improvements and bug fixes in the underlying infrastructure to enhance stability, manageability and interoperability. In addition, industry leading vendors are actively engaged with training, documentation and management of the OpenStack user groups.
Some of the strongest evidence of the evolution and readiness of OpenStack is the number and nature of companies that now offer OpenStack products and services to the market. Both established and up-and-coming vendors help fill in the perceived gaps of the upstream code with products that help improve the OpenStack deployment process and the ongoing operational experience. These include enhancements important to enterprise users such as performance improvements, rolling upgrades, high availability features, and hardware validation services. Other vendor-focused work includes integration efforts around complementary technologies like containers and traditional virtualization environments. Integrators and service providers are also delivering OpenStack consulting and support expertise to help enterprise users deploy and manage their OpenStack environments.
OpenStack is Now Ready for the Enterprise
OpenStack has evolved over the last six years into a viable cloud operating system solution for enterprise IT. While early releases lacked the features, usability and deployment model requirements for enterprise use, the capabilities have been enhanced significantly, and ecosystem partners have filled in the remaining gaps with commercial distributions and services. I believe OpenStack is ready for enterprises whose IT organizations who adopt a pragmatic approach to workload choices, staffing plans, deployment models, and partnership strategies.
For a deep dive on how OpenStack has evolved to become enterprise ready, download our paper here.