OpenStack At Three Years Old, And Beyond

OpenStack is no longer a toddler. Today, it’s three years old. And like all preschoolers, it’s making amazing strides and having an occasional fall. But it is absolutely something that all of us who helped birth are amazingly proud of! It has grown into a project the scope of which is beyond anything we saw coming three years go.

It’s been a another huge year for milestones – more contributors, more members, more projects, more code; you name it. It remains the fastest growing global open source community – with 231 companies, more than 10,000 individual members, more than 1,000 total contributors and more than 200 average monthly contributors. The OpenStack community now includes 121 countries and has seen upwards of 70,000 code contributions.

But the big thing over the past year was the rapid growth in our user community. If OpenStack Summit Portland was any indication, this was truly the year of the user for OpenStack. Customers like HubSpot, Sony, Comcast and more took to the stage to share their OpenStack stories. And just recently, CERN openlab shared its plans to leverage OpenStack for its research. Many more are deploying out of the spotlight, and many more are coming.

As we enter our fourth year, there are some key areas where our community can work together to make OpenStack even better and get even more people involved.

Let’s look at it from several key directions:

The Foundation

We need to address the needs of users, developers and operators while keeping the scope of the technology reasonable. It needs to solve real problems, but we need to be careful to keep its focus reasonable. We have a big enough mission ahead of us.

The board is starting to get into issues that will inevitably impact the vibrant vendor ecosystem around the project. It’s up to us to protect the ability for companies to build solutions around this project — solutions that get used and bring more people to our community.

The Community

As the demographics of the project continue to shift, there are certain challenges the community needs to face head-on. One of those is international expansion, which will be a major challenge. For example, Rackspace Private Cloud has been downloaded tens of thousands of times in nearly every country in the world – on every continent, including Antarctica. As a community we need to be prepared for this type of global growth. We’re already seeing that with partnerships like the China OpenStack User Group, which is training developers and driving adoption in China. Coordinating across the world in an effective way will be a real challenge we need to take on. I am excited to see that we are starting to address this with our first summit outside of the US this fall in Hong Kong.

The Technology

OpenStack is unique in its ability to not only meet the needs of service providers, but of enterprises of all sizes as well. To enable them to have private clouds that look and operate like public cloud. Enabling true “cloud anywhere” capabilities through continuous integration and continuous delivery, workload portability and network interoperability are important.

Our Business

At Rackspace, we are focused on achieving the highest performance for our customers’ applications. This means marrying the capabilities of our OpenStack-based public and private clouds with bare metal, running anywhere a customer chooses. Rather than forcing an application to accept the limitations of a single form factor – for example, making MongoDB run on a public cloud – customers can mix and match to best fit their needs. This will deliver the highest performance and reliability for the lowest total cost.

At Rackspace, we will continue to do our part. And how we are doing that is changing. During the early days of the project, prior to the establishment of the Foundation, we were careful not to make decisions that would be viewed as Rackspace overly dominating a project we controlled. We worked hard to ensure OpenStack was a true community effort. Our goal in the next 12 months and in coming years is to continue to work closely with the community to shape OpenStack and do all that we can to help it grow faster and spark involvement. We will be much more outspoken in that effort.

It really is incredible to see what’s happened since our first meeting in Austin three years ago. I think there were a few dozen people there. Later this year, we’ll be in Hong Kong with an expected 4,000 to 5,000 attendees. If this is the success after just three years, I can’t want to see what OpenStack looks like in the future.

Jim Curry is a Senior Consultant with Rackspace. He joined the company in 2006 to run corporate development efforts, which included new business incubation, venture investing activities, and mergers and acquisitions, including the acquisitions of, Slicehost, Jungle Disk and Cloudkick. Three years later, Jim led the founding of the OpenStack project on behalf of Rackspace and was responsible for developing the community until its transition to the OpenStack Foundation in 2012. He currently serves on the board of the foundation. Jim has previously held executive positions with several technology startups, including Bowstreet and Tivoli, which have since been acquired by IBM. He holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Texas and an MBA from Harvard University. Jim and his wife Laurie have a son and twins, a boy and a girl. Follow Jim on Twitter at @jimcurry and on his blog at:


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