Three Key Observations From OpenStack Summit Atlanta

At the OpenStack “Juno” Summit in Atlanta this week, more than 4,500 people packed the convention center to learn, share and experience the awesome that is the OpenStack community.

The Summit kicked off with standing room only keynotes from OpenStack Executive Director Jonathan Bryce and Rackspace Cloud Architect Troy Toman. In the crowd, there was huge excitement about how far we’ve come since 2010, as well as the opportunities and challenges we face moving forward.

Here are my three key observations from OpenStack Summit Atlanta:

Observation 1: There are more users than ever. They’re big and they love private cloud.

Wells Fargo and Disney (and other household names) got on stage to profess their love for OpenStack and talk about how it’s helping them move faster as a business:



Being able to get the public cloud experience of “it’s fast, it’s powerful and it just works” inside your own data centers is very powerful. Until recently, only a very small number of large organizations had the mindset and agility to take advantage of what cloud could do for them, public or private. That’s changing, and it’s changing quickly. While walking the halls, I made it a point to sneak a peek at as many badges as possible, and it was incredible to see some of the company names in attendance: big banks, big manufacturing, big retail, big government agencies, big entertainment and everything in between. Many of these companies will be on stage at future summits like Wells Fargo and Disney were this week. They’ll talk about how OpenStack solves problems and helps their companies move faster!

Observation 2: Vendors aren’t the only ones contributing.

Big users are becoming major contributors to the project because it means they can move faster as a company. I’ve spoken at length about getting your business off of someone else’s roadmap, and OpenStack is the engine that helps you do that. Comcast has figured this out. The media and communications giant took the stage a few summits ago to show off what it’s doing with OpenStack, and has since become one of the project’s largest code contributors.

And Comcast doesn’t just have one person working on writing code for OpenStack; it had eight in the Icehouse release, for a total of 129 commits, 4,789 lines of code, seven blueprints and 128 emails to the mailing lists. Instead of spending time trying to convince vendors to add features, and then putting its own business on hold waiting for those features, Comcast and many other organizations have realized that they can work with the community to add those features, and move faster as a business as a result.

Observation 3: The skeptics are switching sides.

Every summit so far has been met with healthy skepticism from industry pundits who were making bets and predictions about the demise of OpenStack. They’d say things like “there aren’t any users” or “their choice of APIs will kill the project” or “XYZ project has more traction.” To their credit, proving them wrong has taken four years of hard work from a community of thousands of people. And in Atlanta this week, I didn’t hear any of those comments or feel that vibe. I spent some great time with quite a few top tier analysts, and while they never stop asking the hard questions, it was my impression that those questions were salted with general optimism for the future of OpenStack. That was a first. It seems like the OpenStack questions clients are asking analysts have shifted from “why?” to “how?” and that’s a powerful switch.

Final thoughts

Atlanta was my eighth summit. To say the community has changed is an understatement. For the first couple of years, the focus was mainly on recruiting companies into the young ecosystem. Those companies are now among OpenStack’s top 10 contributors. That’s exciting to see. Even more exciting is that the time we’ve spent bringing users into OpenStack is working. We see it at Rackspace in our private cloud business. We see it at local OpenStack meetups around the world. And we get to see it in a major way every six months at the summits.

Who will be on stage in Paris in November talking about how OpenStack is changing their business? Stay tuned! J

Follow me on Twitter: @scottsanchez

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