OpenStack was first announced three years ago at the OSCON conference in Portland.
I remember the first time I heard about the announcement and how it immediately caught my attention. Ever since that day, I have become a strong advocate for the technology. Looking back, I’ve often wondered why OpenStack earned my loyalty so quickly.
Was it because OpenStack is an open source cloud? Well, partially, but that couldn’t be the main reason for my interest. OpenStack was not the first open source cloud initiative; we had Eucalyptus, then Cloud.com and other open source cloud initiatives before OpenStack emerged.
But these open source cloud initiatives were started by unreliable companies that lacked the commitment for a true open movement. I knew that a real open source cloud movement couldn’t meet its potential as an industry movement if startups led it. I knew that experience in the field gave OpenStack a much better starting point.
I also knew some of the main individuals behind the initiatives and their commitment to the Open Cloud and that made me confident that the OpenStack project would have a much higher chance for success than its predecessors. After three years, the game is essentially over and it’s obvious who’s going to win the open source cloud war. I’m happy to say that I also had my own little share in spreading the word by advocating the OpenStack movement in our own local community which also grew extremely quickly over the past two years.
OpenStack as an Open Movement
Paul Holland, an Executive Program Manager for Cloud at HP, gave an excellent talk during the last OpenStack Summit in which he drew parallels between the founding of the United States and the founding of OpenStack.
Paul also drew an interesting comparison between the role of the common currency on the open market and its OpenStack equivalents: APIs, common language, processes, etc. Today, we take those things for granted, but we cannot imagine what our global economy would look like without the Dollar as a common currency or English as a common language, even if they have not been explicitly chosen as such by all countries.
We often tend to gloss over the details of the Foundation and its governing body, but those details make OpenStack an industry movement. This movement has brought large companies, like Red Hat, HP, IBM, Rackspace and many others, to collaborate and contribute to a common project as noted in this report. The steadily growing number of individual developers year after year is another strong indication of the real movement that this project has created.
Thinking Beyond Amazon AWS
OpenStack essentially started as the open source alternative to Amazon AWS. Many of the sub-projects often began as Amazon equivalents. Today, we are starting to see projects with a new level of innovation that do not have any AWS equivalent. The most notable ones, IMHO, are the Neutron (network) and BareMetal projects. Both have huge potential to disrupt how we think about cloud infrastructure.
Only on OpenStack
We often tend to compare OpenStack with other clouds on a feature-to-feature basis.
The open source and community adoption nature of OpenStack enables us to do things that are unique to OpenStack and cannot be matched by other clouds, like:
- Run the same infrastructure on private and public clouds.
- Work with multiple cloud providers; have more than one OpenStack-compatible cloud provider with which to work.
- Plug in different HW as cloud platforms for private clouds from different vendors, such as HP, IBM, Dell, Cisco, or use pre-packaged OpenStack distributions, such as the one from Ubuntu, Red Hat, Piston etc.
- Choose your infrastructure of choice for storage, network etc, assuming that many of the devices come with OpenStack-supported plug-ins.
All this can be done only on OpenStack; not because it is open source, but because the level of OpenStack adoption has made it the de-facto industry standard.
Re-think the Cloud Layers
When the cloud first came into the world, it was common to look at the stack from a three-layer approach: IaaS, PaaS and SaaS.
Typically, when we designed each of the layers, we looked at the other layers as *black-boxes* and often had to create parallel stacks within each layer to manage security, metering, or high availability.
Since OpenStack is an open source infrastructure, we can break the wall between those layers and re-think where we draw the line. When we design our PaaS on OpenStack, there is no reason why we wouldn’t reuse the same security, metering, messaging and provisioning that is used to manage our infrastructure. The result is a much thinner and potentially more efficient foundation across all the layers that is easier to maintain. The new Heat project and Ceilometer in OpenStack are already starting to take steps in this direction and are, therefore, becoming some of the most active projects in the upcoming Havana release of OpenStack.
Looking Into the Future
Personally, I think that the world with OpenStack is healthier and brighter for the entire industry, than a world in which we are dependent on one or two major cloud providers, regardless of how good of a job they may or may not do. There are still many challenges ahead in turning all this into a reality and we are still at the beginning. The good news, though, is that there is a lot of room for contribution and, as I’ve witnessed myself, everyone can help shape this new world that we are creating.
OpenStack Birthday Events
To mark OpenStack’s 3rd Birthday, there will be a variety of birthday celebrations taking place around the world. At the upcoming OSCON event in Portland from July 22-26, OpenStack will host their official birthday party on July 24th. There will also be a celebration in Israel on the 21st, marking the occasion in Tel Aviv.
For more information about the Foundation’s birthday celebrations, visit their website at www.openstack.org.