Is OpenStack Broken?… Not So Fast, My Friend

“OpenStack is broken.” “OpenStack is too complicated.” “I don’t even like OpenStack, but I am deploying it anyway because it is the best technology platform out there.” These are a few things I’ve heard in my recent interactions with technology leaders considering OpenStack.

While initially perplexed, it occurred to me that each of these refrains was largely coming from enterprise and mid-market customers who were viewing OpenStack through the lens of one particular delivery model: the “do-it-yourself” model. This model opens up a Pandora’s box of OpenStack complexity, which can be framed across many angles and spectrums: the number of configuration choices, the varying levels of maturity from one OpenStack project to another, the networking choices that must be made and the lack of talent and skills available for recruiting, hiring and retention.

When a company takes on ALL of these challenges on their own, it is very easy to understand why words like “broken” and “complicated” become so pervasive. The reason for the language and frustration is pretty simple; OpenStack is not a product.

OpenStack is a set of projects, blueprints and tools that can allow organizations to deploy applications to the cloud and take advantage of very powerful open source software to achieve scale, efficiency, flexibility, speed-to-market and speed-to-revenue. Because we are talking about projects, blueprints and tools, think of OpenStack as a major auto parts store.  The store carries the best and widest array of parts and tools on its shelves, but a typical consumer doesn’t have the know-how to take on building and maintaining their own technically advanced high-performance vehicle. They might go to the store to pick up windshield wipers or oil, but they usually leave significant vehicle maintenance and repair to the professionals.


There are a handful of companies who can help customers design and build an “OpenStack high-performance vehicle” from scratch. They custom build it with one-of-a-kind integrations and unique design and deployment. However, when the customer is given the keys to “drive” their cloud off the lot, there is NO structure or productization associated with maintaining, optimizing, upgrading, monitoring and operating their cloud. There is not a team of experts behind them 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, nor are there service level or uptime guarantees to ensure their cloud will run as expected.

Customers who take on the “do-it-yourself” model range from the largest enterprises in the world to smaller mid-market shops. Rackspace has OpenStack Private Cloud customers across this same spectrum that have decided to go with the better model: OpenStack consumed as a managed service.


Rackspace delivers OpenStack as a managed service, removing the complexity and providing customers with guaranteed 99.99 percent uptime for the OpenStack control plane and APIs. This model delivers a very specific reference architecture that has already been delivered to hundreds of customers across almost every industry. Customers have access to the single largest team of experts who have been operating OpenStack since its inception more than five years ago.

When we deliver OpenStack as managed service, Rackspace prescribes an answer for every configuration choice for only the most stable OpenStack projects, which can be deployed at scale with an industry-leading SLA. This allows organizations to innovate and speed time-to-revenue while protecting against risk. Rackspace allows companies to focus on revenue generating applications that deliver “four nines” while it delivers a platform that delivers “four nines.”

Consuming OpenStack as a managed service includes options for training, services to overcome adoption barriers, and dedicated resources that get to know a customer’s cloud, workloads, business needs and IT team. Rackspace Private Cloud powered by OpenStack is the reason OpenStack is NOT broken. It eliminates complexity, and CIOs will love deploying it for their business needs.

Check out this infographic, which offers a detailed history of how OpenStack came to be, and make sure you register for the upcoming OpenStack Summit in Austin, TX, which kicks off on April 25!

Christian Foster is the Senior Director of Marketing for the OpenStack Cloud business. A Racker since 2013, he has more than 17 years of experience in marketing and strategy roles including eCommerce, brand management, product marketing, operations, demand generation, executive communications, media relations, and corporate strategy. Christian holds a bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems from Baylor University and is a native of Austin, Texas. When he is not on the golf course or working out, Christian and his wife Megan can be found spending time with their 11-year-old daughter, seven-year-old son, and a King Charles Spaniel named Ellie.


    • Thanks for your comment and essay, we always appreciate hearing from the community, and divergent viewpoints often make the whole stronger. Our auto parts store metaphor is aimed at companies (largely mid market and enterprises) struggling to successfully use OpenStack on their own due to the reasons we’ve cited above. We want those companies to know that you can get great success out of OpenStack by consuming it as a service from Rackspace.


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