OpenStack Vancouver Summit Wrap-Up

Last week the global OpenStack community gathered in the beautiful city of Vancouver (Canada) to celebrate the release of OpenStack Kilo (which Scality recently announced support for), share knowledge, and report experiences in hundreds of technical sessions, as well as to start planning and designing the features that will be part of the next release; dubbed Liberty.

OpenStack-Announcement
Whilst we’ll go into some of the details discussed during the technical sessions and design summit in later posts, this one gives some impressions about the state of affairs in the OpenStack space.

Community

Once again the summit proved how big the OpenStack community is. Thousands of attendees (I heard the number 6000 going around…) from hundreds of companies all across the world gather to discuss the projects they’re working on, and how to move them forward whilst collaborating in the open – which puts the OpenStack community in a fairly unique position. I also witnessed this in Paris back in November.

While spending time at our Scality booth in the crowded Marketplace (with its fabulous view over the Vancouver bay), it occurred to me this community feeling goes beyond the developer/technical crowd. Also, on the business side, lots of companies involved in the OpenStack movement find each other and form alliances to collaborate on further enhancing the platform.

Usage

Despite several high-profile OpenStack installations (as witnessed again in the keynote sessions during the Summit), until recently a majority of setups were used for testing or development purposes. Having on-demand infrastructure available during development is a very valuable use case (the internal cloud at Scality is used extensively for several purposes), but these clusters remain fairly small and don’t run business-critical workloads.

This appears to be changing though: even more than before, companies presented their experiences with concrete projects running on top of OpenStack-based clouds during the sessions. When talking to solution providers, many more installations are planned, but due to the complexity of moving legacy infrastructure to the new platform (for consolidation), or the time and effort it takes to (re)design existing applications to leverage the benefits a cloud infrastructure brings, these are long-running projects.

Despite some reluctance to go into production with OpenStack-based cloud offerings already, the project is certainly on the radar of service providers, some of them aiming to replace their existing VMWare based solutions. During discussions, I was surprised by the number of attendees who had no current OpenStack deployments (next to some testing), but were present with a delegation (mostly for the first time) to get more insight in the platform.

Enterprise

Related to the previous subject, an often-discussed topic at the Summit was the ‘enterprise’ usage of OpenStack, and what’s required to make OpenStack-based clouds more enterprise-ready. This includes: better support for service, high-availability, ease of installation and upgrades, better auditing and monitoring facilities…all the way to more reference architectures and certified hardware (sometimes even purpose-built for cloud-style workloads, e.g. the new HP Apollo 4000 systems).

Even though these topics are not always the most challenging from an engineering point of view, the OpenStack developer community realizes and acknowledges the need for improvement, and several of the big contributors openly committed to spending more resources on making OpenStack more enterprise-ready during the Liberty cycle.

OpenStack Storage

Finally, as part of the Scality family, it’s hard not to focus on storage. I was pleased to see how Scality’s decision to embrace OpenStack as a first-class platform is now followed by several other vendors; some openly, others in early development. The investment in a dedicated engineering team brought us in pole-position to deliver a unified storage solution for OpenStack-based clouds.

Paul Speciale, Senior Director Product Management, clearly explained the need for this during his presentation, “Scality: Converging Object, File and Block for Simplified OpenStack Storage Management:

Furthermore the focus from primarily block-based storage is shifting heavily towards direct filesystem-based storage or object-based mechanisms in OpenStack cloud environments. This comes to no surprise for us; hence Scality’s long-term focus on file and object based storage. The number of questions about OpenStack Manila we got at the booth, or during hallway conversations, supports our decision to invest in native support for this new service in the second half of 2015 for the Liberty cycle.

Even though the size of block and object storage services in OpenStack setups is still fairly small (take a look at the user survey results), storage forms the backbone of any cloud deployment and the need for petabyte-scale storage running on a variety of platforms will increase with every new OpenStack deployment. The Scality RING product, with all its OpenStack service integrations, is perfectly suited to fulfill these requirements.

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