Amidst the product pitches and community spirit of OpenStack lies a competitive edge and a need to educate. James Nunns reports from OpenStack Silicon Valley 2015.
It has been frequently said that the speed at which OpenStack is moving is incredible, it is after all only five years old and becoming more global by the month.
The event held in Silicon Valley at the Computer History Museum, surrounded by Google buildings, is a fitting setting. Google’s introduction to the community has been a powerful one.
Google’s presence almost validates OpenStack, and along with big hitters such as Intel, the likelihood of the community overcoming issues such as durability and becoming enterprise ready seems to be a lot closer.
Google’s involvement shouldn’t be seen as just a way to aid the community with Kubernetes and to give it more options. Google will be hoping that its involvement will help to build its own market share in and compete more closely with AWS. Ultimately, Google wants to be seen as the open cloud company.
AWS is a competitor to all, whether companies wish to admit it or not, and the company was certainly mentioned more than a few times. Randy Bias, VP, emerging technologies division, EMC noted, "OpenStack was conceived as an AWS knock-off and still is."
While OpenStack may not be directly competing with AWS currently, it will certainly need to consider this in its future.
Some of the competition is for developers, with both offering a developer platform. Offering an open community for developers has appeal and in the community there is co-opetition.
James Staten, chief strategist of the cloud and enterprise division, Microsoft, took to the OpenStack stage andsaid: "Most IT departments aren’t ready and don’t have a strong knowledge of what developers are looking for."
There is a democratic process in place to decide how the OpenStack community develops, so that no company can bend it to its needs, but being able to still compete with each other. This results in many different solutions for customers, perhaps too many.
Bias said OpenStack shouldn’t have an infinite number of standards and some of the companies I spoke to at the event agreed that this can lead to complexity.
The community may in time need to whittle down the number of options it has and, despite being somewhat against the ethos, may make choosing it a simpler decision.
Another solution is for companies to honestly inform customers of what the best solution it is for them to use, regardless of whether this may benefit competition, but this seems unlikely.
On the whole, the community appears to be aware of the challenges it faces and what it needs to do to solve them. Open discussions are taking place regarding its future and the path it is on.
With the OpenStack Foundation gaining non-profit status and analyst firms identifying it as the "fifth platform" the future looks bright for the community.