Enterprise OpenStack Deployments—Why Hide?
More than 4,700 attendees, double the number at the Hong Kong Summit a mere six months ago, indicate that the May 2014 OpenStack Summit in Atlanta was by all measures a resounding success.
A Superuser theme, complete with cute cartoon images of your favorite OpenStack personality and a new publication highlighting the user experience, leave little doubt that organizations of all types, public and private, are actively using OpenStack for both test and production environments.
So why are so many enterprises reluctant to go on record about their OpenStack implementations? Despite the recent fear mongering by David Linthicum, OpenStack is indeed being adopted by a spectrum of organizations, large and small, including quite a few well-publicized high-profile success stories, such as Comcast and Bloomberg.
The topic of enterprise adoption did come up in a media and analyst panel. When asked why so few companies were adopting large-scale OpenStack deployments, the universal response was that many companies were, but the reasons for hiding their activities for the most part boiled down to perception.
One speculation was that some companies see it as a competitive advantage; just how is unclear, since OpenStack as open source software is by its very nature available to anyone. Others don’t want to admit that they are using what could be viewed as immature technology or that they are relying heavily on experienced vendors to lead the way.
Although analysts might be divided about enterprise adoption, based on the companies listed on the attendees’ name badges and the lively discussions in the operations sessions—a new track added in response to the increasingly vocal administration and operations community—the notion of OpenStack as a viable production platform is very much alive and well.
Sessions with diverse topics such as, Using Continuous Integration with an Open Source Code Base for Large-Scale Infrastructure Deployments and When Is This DevOps Unicorn Going to Sprout Wings and Fly Me Away to Cloud Nirvana? were packed with users and operations people. That does not strike me as a sign that the enterprise is just dipping its toes in the water.
Some subjects up for debate included what constitutes best operations practices. Many folks openly discussed their large-scale enterprise deployments and the scaling issues encountered along the way. No surprise that there was much moaning and groaning about the lack of usability and scalability of Neutron, the SDN networking component with a decidedly rocky history.
Another popular discussion was the lack of a transparent upgrade path. Nova, the computer component, is well along in achieving upgrade Nirvana in the Icehouse release, but the other components are still pretty close to the rebuild from scratch stage. Sadly, there are still plenty of older implementations that do not have a clear upgrade path.
So the big question remains: Should enterprises that cannot afford to take risks with their IT infrastructure rely on OpenStack? The answer is a qualified yes. For sophisticated companies who have close ties to experienced vendors and are looking for ways to build flexible private clouds, OpenStack has much going for it. However, less adventurous shops with an entrenched VMware base and little appetite for living on the leading edge might want to give it some serious thought before jumping on the bandwagon.