What a year!  OpenStack at One

It is truly amazing that it has just been one year since we at Rackspace, along with NASA and 25 other organizations, officially announced the launch of OpenStack.  From day one we have been shocked by the interest, engagement and momentum of the community launched to build the de facto open standard cloud operating system.  Turns out the world was craving a truly open project devoted to cloud software, and they quickly got behind OpenStack.

The stats are just amazing:

-Developer summits:  #1 – 100 attendees; #2 – 250 attendees; #3 – 500 attendees
-Number of contributors who have signed CLA:  217
-Number of developer community members: 1,200
-Number of downloads from Launchpad alone:  35,000

It was only with the Cactus release in April that OpenStack Compute (Nova) became a production-ready platform for most enterprises. The number of companies — from large service providers across the globe to major Fortune 500 companies — that are currently either deploying or experimenting will soon result in a huge spike in that number.

About 18 months ago, Rackspace decided definitively it would give away the intellectual property that built its cloud and embrace open source.  Our strategy rests on a few simple ideas:  1) standards matter and the cloud really needed an open, strong de-facto approach; 2) the core technology that runs datacenters should innovate faster and be available to all, 3) in working with a great ecosystem of partners we could get access to better technology than we could on our own. We have no regrets about the approach.  Yes, we have and will continue to enable many competitors.  True, many companies will hold on to computing since they now have the tools they need to run it closer to the efficiency at which a cloud provider can, but this was always part of the bargain.  Our job is to create a better experience, to operate our cloud better, to deliver scale and to offer an unparalleled level of service we call Fanatical Support™.  In the end, the tech won’t win, the experience will.  At least, that’s how we see it.

What will the next year hold?  Here are just three of my predictions:

1.  Mature code that is ready to deploy. OpenStack is a young project: the code is young and the ease of deployment is still too low; however, this is rapidly changing.  Not only is the code getting ready for major production systems, deploying and operating OpenStack clouds will soon become easier.  Furthermore, the number of features and capabilities will grow exponentially, whether in core projects or in new projects emerging in networking, identity management and web-based interfaces.

2.  Big time deployments, including Rackspace. The number of big name companies relying on OpenStack is going to shock people in the coming year.  We are 100 percent committed to the OpenStack code base.  In the coming months, we will make several announcements regarding our plans and it’s our understanding we are not alone.

3.  The OpenStack economy. Startups, M&A and new products are already emerging to tap into the OpenStack installed base.  It will multiply.  If you build enterprise hardware and software but not thinking about how you fit in the OpenStack community you are missing a huge opportunity.  As the network grows, its value will multiple.  Interoperability standards will need to emerge and we hope to help make it happen.

Together, we will see how it turns out.  As the project turns one, we thank all those community members that have made it all possible.  No question many organizations and companies have made huge contributions to this effort.  NASA, Citrix, Dell, Cisco, NTT and Nicira are just a few of the major contributors, and we thank them.  Thanks to all for a great year.

Now the fun begins…

Click here to see the OpenStack timeline over the course of 1 year.


Lew Moorman is a senior consultant to the top executives of Rackspace, focusing on strategy and product issues. He also serves as a member of the Board of Directors. Lew joined Rackspace in April of 2000 and has served in a variety of roles, including as President and Chief Strategy Officer, while the company grew to $1.3 billion in annual sales. Before joining Rackspace, he worked for the consulting firm McKinsey & Company, advising technology clients on strategic issues. A native of San Antonio, Lew received a B.A. from Duke University and a J.D. from Stanford Law School.



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