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INSIGHT: Is OpenStack a success?

INSIGHT: Is OpenStack a success?

“There is no doubt that OpenStack has become the best known and most widely supported open source framework for building private IaaS, so in that area it is a success."

“Sure it is.”

A simple three word response from Alan Waite, research analyst, Gartner.

Of course however, Waite reminds that one has to define the measurement criteria before declaring something a success, and that is where many organisations fall down with OpenStack.

“There is no doubt that OpenStack has become the best known and most widely supported open source framework for building private IaaS, so in that area it is a success,” Waite observes.

“It has a long line of powerful companies supporting the project and contributing to the code and marketing of OpenStack – successful there. It definitely has a future.”

For Waite, the five key strengths of OpenStack are widely accepted cloud management API, a broad ecosystem, adaptability, open source and interoperability.

“On the other hand if you consider “success” to be massive adoption across many industries and in a majority of virtualised estates, then OpenStack has not succeeded,” Waite adds.

“From the data I have seen the number of production OpenStack deployments worldwide in 2014 was on the order of hundreds – not thousands or tens of thousands.

“This is not surprising if you think about the limited use cases where an OpenStack cloud would actually be the right solution.”

When Gartner clients ask Waite if they should be using OpenStack in their organization, he first asks three questions:

• Should you be building an IaaS private cloud?

• Do you have the skills and resources available for a project of this complexity?

• Is an open source framework like OpenStack the right tool for the job?

According to Waite’s observations, for most organisations the answer to at least one of these questions is a big fat No.

“Sometimes that is not a show-stopper, for example a problem with internal skills and resources might be solved by hosted or managed solutions or services contracts, but these involve a loss of control and potential long term expensive contracts,” he adds.

“Anyone who thinks that the obvious next step for all server virtualisation users will be OpenStack is sadly mistaken; the opportunity is much smaller than that.”

In addition to this issue, the weaknesses of OpenStack hold back its adoption in many of the clients Waite speaks to:

• Difficulty of implementation

• Shortage of skills available in the market

• Conflicting or uncoordinated OpenStack project governance

• Weak spots in some OpenStack projects

• Integration with existing infrastructure

“I expect OpenStack adoption to grow,” Waite predicts. “I also expect public cloud adoption to grow faster than OpenStack.

“What I do see for OpenStack is that it is our current best hope for a private workload control layer able to operate across technology silos.”

Waite believes OpenStack Nova provides a control plane and API for compute in much the same way that software defined networking and software defined storage are beginning to do for networks and storage.

“Somewhere at the intersection of OpenStack and Container management frameworks lies the new realm of “software defined compute”, the third leg in the tripod of software defined infrastructure,” he adds. “But I think that’s for another day.”

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