OpenStack Loves L.A.

Hello, Los Angeles; the home of the movie stars, famous athletes, Pink’s Hot Dogs and also the first stop in the RoadStackRV tour back home from the OpenStack Design Summit & Conference in San Francisco.

Over the past two years, Rackspace has seen a steady climb in the number of cloud customers in the L.A. area, so it made perfect sense to drop in and see how we could make their customer experiences better and educate them and the local cloud community about the latest happenings from the OpenStack Conference.

With the help of local cloud aficionados DreamHost and MorphLabs, two companies that are very heavily involved in OpenStack and well known in the L.A. community, we arranged a meet-up.  Around 6:45 p.m. folks started to trickle in and right on time Mr. Yoram Heller from MorphLabs rolled in with the pizza!  Special thanks for being the food sponsor, MorphLabs!

As the session kicked off, there was a mixed crowd of approximately 30 OpenStack first-timers and seasoned users consisting of representatives from OpenStack Foundation members like AT&T, Dell, DreamHost and MorphLabs, along with a mixed-bag of individual interest from folks from companies such as Universal Studios and LunrPages.  Jim Plamondon, Rackspace director of developer relations, kicked things off with a “Cloud 101 – What is OpenStack?” presentation, which was followed by an “OpenStack Summit Recap” presented by myself.  The conversation was quite engaging and quickly turned from a presentation-driven session to a more interactive Q&A.  There were quite a few people in the audience that had attended the OpenStack Conference, so it was a good forum discussion to dive deeper into some of the more controversial things, such as billing and metering, but it was also general enough to bring people who didn’t get the chance to make the trip up north up to speed.

The trio of topics that really stood out was billing, deployability and Hyper-V. Each of these topics got some people speaking candidly, which to me is a great sign.  The diehard Microsoft guys in the room knew what it meant for OpenStack and Hyper-V to work together while seasoned Linux engineers were pretty happy with the current state of OpenStack’s stability.  It often comes down to a DevOp’s discussion around OpenStack today, but companies like Microsoft want to prepackage this stuff in a point and click install.  The group consensus was OpenStack needs to be easier to deploy, which was something we could all agree with.

A great review of Crowbar was discussed explaining the use case, and that was impressive to more than one person in the audience.  This lead into a discussion about how documentation practices are changing and some of the topics discussed around this very fact at the Summit.

OpenStack Technical Writer Anne Gentle continues to be a workhorse for getting documentation done right, and her efforts are definitely being felt.  I was asked to give her a hug from one of the attendees who had wrestled with OpenStack for days before finding Anne’s docs, which helped him fix his problem right away!

We closed the session with a nice talk about billing and metering, as many new people to OpenStack wanted to know, “How do I make money off this thing?”  With billing being in an unfinished state today, the conversation was quite vibrant as everyone had an opinion on how it should be done.  This ultimately led to the best part of open-source: I informed our audience that code was welcome, and the community would love to see their contributions.

All in all, the L.A. OpenStack meet-up was a great success!  Great questions, company and food, and I think we more than delivered the message we were trying to pass on:  OpenStack is real.  Rackspace is using it.  And momentum is pushing it full steam ahead.

I look forward to the great things that come out of that OpenStack L.A. Group, and I would like to thank everyone who made it out to spend the evening with us!

Wayne Walls is a Cloud Architect at Rackspace, where he evangelizes global cloud strategy. A tenured technology leader, Wayne has engineered complex technical solutions, delivered IT transformation plans, and implemented multiple training initiatives around cloud computing. Co-maintainer of the Rackspace Developer blog, Wayne is helping developers, engineers, and executives understand cloud technologies and how to turn that knowledge into tangible returns. He holds a B.S. of Information Systems and a B.A. of Economics from the University of Oklahoma. Follow him on Twitter at @waynewalls.


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