It’s easy to get overwhelmed with options for the OpenStack Summit 2016, held next week in Austin, Texas. For example, there are 34 presentations/working meetings to choose from alone in the 2:40 – 3:20 timeslot on Wednesday. Good thing they have an app to organize your schedule.
And to judge by the results of the most recent OpenStack user survey, a diverse and eager group of attendees will descend on Austin, hungry for more information.
OpenStack, an open source IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-service) software platform for cloud computing, has seen rapid growth since then developed in 2010 as a joint project between NASA and Rackspace. The OpenStack Foundation was created in 2012 to promote the open source software and manage the user and development communities. It is led by a Technical Committee of 13, whose members are elected by the project’s Active Technical Contributors, and a Board of Directors. To date, over 500 companies have joined the Foundation.
Next week, over 7,500 app developers, cloud administrators, telco operators and other IT professionals from over 50 countries will gather in Austin, Texas for the semi-annual OpenStack Summit, hosted by the Foundation. That’s a 100-fold increase over its first summit just five years ago.
This Summit is two conferences in one. The OpenStack Conference, running Monday through Thursday, is a typical users conference with presentations on how to use the software, how companies are already using the software, hands-on workshops, vendor booths and networking opportunities.
There are 23 different presentation categories for the conference, in addition to the presentations sponsored by 58 different companies, underscoring both the range of the product and the diversity of its users. Attendees can find topics in Architectural Decisions: “Is that a cloud in your pocket?” to Big Data, to Working Groups. Sponsors range from industry heavyweights like Red Hat, Intel, VMware, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise to new kids on the block like the start-up Datera to the open source project OpenDaylight, hosted by the Linux Foundation.
Heidi Joy Tretheway, OpenStack Foundation senior marketing manager, said in an interview this week that she is most excited about the user stories presented at the conference. They will show how OpenStack is being used in the real world.
Then there is the OpenStack Ops and Design Summit, with an Ops Summit on Monday and developer and operator working sessions running Tuesday through Friday. This is a semi-annual opportunity for contributors to the open source software to gather to determine the requirements for the next software releases and collaborate with other community members in working session, boot camps, lightening talks, and “fishbowl” sessions. With six core products and over 13 optional services, there’s a lot to talk about. Individual services as well as sessions about how they work together within OpenStack and with other market products.
OpenStack, Open Mind
These sessions have the reputation restrained skepticism and open-mindedness not found at other conferences.
At the last summit in Tokyo in October, the group discussed issues like whether future development should be directed towards fulfilling customers’ wish lists or from a higher-level perspective, and whether Open Stack might need to be split into two parts, one for cloud-native customers and one for traditional workloads. The sessions displayed “a mind-spinning display of frankness that would be inconceivable at a vendor conference,” reported TNS’ Scott M. Fulton.
There is a promise of that frankness next week with session topics like “Evaluating OpenStack: Interoperability: The Elephants in the Room & What We’re Doing About Them,” “Horror Stories: How we keep breaking the Scheduler at Scale!” and “Pros and Cons of Various OpenStack Consumption Models.”
In addition to all of this, there are several opportunities to take certification exams. According to Tretheway, as OpenStack continues to grow, so does the demand for certified OpenStack engineers and developers. They are hoping to certify a slew of new engineers and developers next week. The supply is a bit short now, so if you’re looking for a long-term career path, this may be the one for you.
OpenStack is exceptionally devoted to their community, not just as customers/consumers of their product, but as active co-creators of the product itself. The Foundation just released the latest edition of its user survey, which will be discussed in detail in a session on Monday. They received 1,600 surveys from 1,111 different companies.
This latest round of results show that there has been a 25 percent increase in number returned since the last survey done just before the Tokyo Summit. The number of clouds in production has risen 35 percent in the last six months since the last user survey. About 44 percent of respondents are currently moving towards using containers, so the interest in using OpenStack with containers is extensive.
When talking about the future, respondents focused on three main areas. Seventy percent of respondents are looking towards containers at some time in the future. Software-defined Networks (SDN) are on the horizon for most participants. Also, Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) is in the future of many companies, especially those in telecom.
Tretheway pointed out that the new OpenStack product BareMetal allows a virtual machine to be installed directly onto hardware instead of hosting through an operating system and will, therefore, be useful to many of these users.
Still, OpenStack demands trained engineers and developers to install and run. Ronen Kofman, the vice president of product management for Stratoscale, is interested in making OpenStack available to a mass market, including smaller companies who want to get into the cloud or away from Amazon’s cloud service.
Stratoscale Symphony, launched last year after being in development since 2013, is a cloud-based, software-defined data center (SDDC) solution. It’s a bundled, easy-to-deploy, and easy-to-use cloud that takes little, if any, configuration and can run on any box. OpenStack is bundled into the Stratoscale products, and Kofman calls the software “a new way to consume OpenStack.” He focuses on less technical, smaller clients. It is the next-generation cloud solution – building an out of the box based on technology that is itself only five years old.
Kofman says although the conference is geared more towards big data and corporations, he keeps coming back. He’s been attending the OpenStack conferences for several years and is looking forward to the announcements and the use case presentations. Kofman has found the conferences to be a great place to share ideas and get an understanding of where the cloud is headed in the future.
This is an exciting time to be working in the cloud,” he said.
If the schedule is any indication, it will be an exciting time indeed.
TNS analyst Lawrence Hecht contributed commentary to the charts in this story.
Feature Image: Texas Pie Company, Austin. T.C. Currie.