An Open Letter To The OpenStack Community

Today is a huge day for the OpenStack community – Rackspace officially hands off the management of the project and all its assets to the independent OpenStack Foundation. We’ve planned for this day since Rackspace founded OpenStack with NASA just over two years ago, and it is a major milestone for OpenStack, the community and Rackspace.

When we launched OpenStack, the goal was to build a broad community of developers, users, companies and other organizations that together would drive the vision of an open and ubiquitous platform for public and private clouds. We’ve accomplished that and could not be more excited about the work we have all done together. In just two years the OpenStack community has flourished beyond our expectations – it now comprises almost 6,000 individual contributors from 88 countries and nearly 200 companies, including many of the giants of enterprise IT. The community has generated more than half a million lines of code and the OpenStack software has been downloaded more than 300,000 times from the central code repositories alone. OpenStack now powers some incredible cloud environments, including our own public cloud here at Rackspace as well as our private cloud software offering.

Rackspace is proud of the contributions it has made to OpenStack to help it achieve liftoff. We started the project by donating the production-ready Swift codebase (Object Storage). We worked with NASA to launch a very early version of Nova (Compute). We helped evolve it to a production-ready compute orchestration system and worked with the community to add other critical core components including Keystone (Identity Service), Quantum (Network) and more.  We invested millions of dollars in building the community and bringing the world to our cause. And today we donate all of the trademarks and the other intellectual property built up over the two years of the project. Bottom line: we’ve committed our company to building OpenStack for commercial use, and to establishing a strong community represented by a stable independent foundation — and both are now ready. And with contributions from a committed community it can only get stronger.

There is still work to be done, but every step of the way you, the OpenStack community, have been at the project’s heart. And with the OpenStack Foundation now leading the charge, we must all continue to push OpenStack forward as members, contributors, commercial ecosystem members and users. To us, it has always been the code that mattered; and that will continue with the help of a community of smart engineers and operators that will shape OpenStack into the de facto open source software for running public and private clouds – truly the Linux of the cloud.

As OpenStack shifts to the Foundation, it’s imperative that the community and its members band together to ensure OpenStack continues its progress and momentum. We have a few directional concepts we think are important for the community to consider. While we know healthy debate will always be a part of the process, our views and actions are informed by these themes:

  1. Ensure strong focus on users. As a community, we can’t lose sight of what makes the OpenStack project so important: the users. We must attract application developers to build their applications for the open cloud. The OpenStack API and underlying systems have evolved rapidly in the last two years making the project a bit of a moving target for developers and operators. Going forward, we must provide users with easy deployments, frequent upgrades and consistency, all of which will help them better leverage OpenStack-powered clouds. The volatility of the code and resulting upgrade path has been one of the major headwinds to OpenStack adoption, and we are not free of guilt in causing some of these issues. But, the code is maturing and getting deployed now. We need to work as a community to be more mindful of the deployments that are out there and how they will continue to benefit from the frequent advances. We would like to see strong leadership from the Technical Committee to drive good trades around upgrade path vs. architectural elegance.
  2. Work towards true interoperability. The vision of federation across deployed OpenStack clouds is critical to the OpenStack vision. At the core OpenStack is a framework for managing and provisioning compute, network and storage. From that core many things are possible. But, we hope and will push for the OpenStack core to remain robust, consistent and stable. Yes, every deployment will have its own configuration and technical specifications, but as long as the core concepts and native APIs are robust and consistent, the possibility to drive real interoperability will exist and the value from this is a huge advantage of the open cloud concept. Again, the code volatility has made this hard in the early days, but we at Rackspace are eager to help drive more stability and consistency as we advance from here.
  3. Make money AROUND OpenStack not ON OpenStack. Part of having a strong core is having a usable core; one that can do real things and be all you need to run a basic cloud.   You should not need a proprietary system to get an OpenStack cloud up and running. But, from that core, there are huge opportunities for monetization: underlying hardware, service and support, systems integration, management systems and software, networking software and hardware, and much, much more. It’s up to the community to innovate around the core and add its own offerings on top of it. And the opportunity is huge. But, keeping the center solid and open makes it all possible.

As a community, we have our work cut out for us. And Rackspace remains fully committed to helping ensure that OpenStack is heading in the right direction. We’ve bet our business on OpenStack. We’ve built our public cloud on it – and we continue to work with the community to ensure quick, easy and scalable deployments of private clouds.

A new world has opened up around OpenStack. As a community we have to ensure the mechanisms are in place to help it continue to thrive and grow. We are confident the foundation is a great step in this direction. When we founded OpenStack, we kick-started a new, open direction for cloud computing. Out of the gate OpenStack was a disruptive force in IT. Computing is changing at a rapid pace, and how it changes is in all of our hands. Let the revolution continue…

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