Reflections On OpenStack’s Second Birthday And The Way Forward

This past week, OpenStack turned two years old. A year ago, I examined OpenStack’s accomplishments upon the celebration of its first birthday. Since then, OpenStack’s technical and business development progress has been both meteoric and profound. A year ago, OpenStack claimed the backing of 80 companies. Today, OpenStack is supported by a whopping 183 companies and 3386 people. OpenStack’s second year featured the successful deployment of Essex, its fifth release after the Austin, Bexar, Cactus and Diablo releases. Essex is distinguished by the tight integration of OpenStack’s different components as well as the maturation of plug-in functionality that facilitates deployment of third party products. Jonathan Bryce, co-founder of Rackspace Cloud and chairman of the OpenStack Project Policy Board, commented on the milestone represented by the Essex release as follows:

When you put it all together, this is really getting to the point where we have a complete cloud OS that you can use to manage compute, storage and networking and manage it all through a Web-based interface and have all the components integrated.

The Essex release contains 150 new enhancements and features developed through contributions from 55 companies and 200 developers in what is widely regarded as the most stable OpenStack release to date. But OpenStack’s technical maturation aside and notwithstanding, the most compelling part of its success story over the last year features the vortex of business development energy that catapulted the initiative into a major player in the cloud computing landscape within the space of two years.

In year two, OpenStack garnered the official support of heavyweights such as IBM and Red Hat, for example, both of whom occupy Platinum member positions within its Foundation. In tandem with its growing base of supporting companies, PaaS and cloud automation vendors alike deployed and marketed products as OpenStack compatible. Puppet Labs, for example, released configuration modules specially designed for enterprise-grade OpenStack deployments. Similarly, Piston Cloud Computing partnered with Rightscale, Puppet and Opscode to allow customers to use these automation products with pentOS, its own OpenStack product. PaaS products such as ActiveState’s Stackato, Red Hat’s OpenShift Origin and CumuLogic marketed their ability to run atop the OpenStack infrastructure. And training vendors such as Mirantis partnered with CloudCamp to deliver OpenStack training.

In summary, highlights of OpenStack’s progress within the last year include the following:

• The release of Essex, marked by the integration of OpenStack Dashboard and OpenStack Identity into OpenStack for the first time.
• The creation of the OpenStack Foundation, featuring 19 companies that will serve as Gold and Platinum members in its Foundation.
• Enterprise grade installations by Rackspace, HP, Dell and Cloudscaling.
• Enthusiastic reception amongst the PaaS community as PaaS vendors increasingly marketed the ability to run on top of IaaS platforms such as OpenStack.

While concerns of fragmentation within the OpenStack community are legitimate, the key question for OpenStack in its third year will be its ability to accelerate the maturation of its product in order to keep pace with the staggering rate of innovation exemplified by Amazon Web Services. The cloud computing world has already given it a stunningly warm reception and declared its open-ness, no pun intended, to the idea of an open source, inter-operable, IaaS platform. The question now is whether OpenStack can deliver, maintain and consistently enhance a mature, stable product as a Foundation and community of vendors.

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