The open source world will perpetually be a contest of ideas. The moment enough factions come together around a single methodology, such as pooled storage or application orchestration, another group of factions come together around a viable alternative.
For OpenStack, which has just emerged triumphant in the battle for the open source hybrid cloud platform space, its next great contest has already begun. It needs to become capable of scaling high-availability, high-bandwidth workloads, including the network functions used by customers in the telecommunications space, with a mechanism other than the ones it has now. AT&T has surged into a leadership position very rapidly, having thrown down the gauntlet last March, pushing open source developers to help it build its next-generation data network services. It uses OpenStack now, but it can’t deploy OpenStack in any of the ways it’s been designed.
The story of AT&T’s decision and the impact it will have on OpenStack and the IT community at large is the subject of the first edition of The New Stack: Context, a twice-monthly podcast that will examine emerging topics in the information technology infrastructure. Our first program takes you into the capacity crowd at the AT&T session, lets you hear the engineers’ assessments and opinions, and sketches out the multiple evolutionary routes that OpenStack may take from here.
“From January to October 2015, we deployed 20 zones. And it was painful… extremely painful,” said AT&T Assistant Vice President Greg Stiegler, speaking last week to an overflow capacity crowd at the OpenStack Summit in Austin, Texas. “We spent a lot of time during that same timeframe, a massive amount of time, automating our deployments. The result of that was, 54 zones deployed in 2 months.”
What Stiegler is effectively saying is that having been pushed into a corner, AT&T found a way to automate rapidly the deployment of servers worldwide — servers that do use OpenStack for resource orchestration (RO). IT departments everywhere are intrigued about how the telco made the turnaround. The answer involves normalization: a process of deciding how few types of servers the company will allow itself to deploy, and templatizing its workload automation around those few types.
For a conference whose chosen theme was “Embracing Diversity,” the message that carried the day was clearly one of homogeneity.