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It's nearly time for another OpenStack Summit, the twice-yearly event where the community for the open source cloud platform meets to discuss progress, use cases, challenges and new features. This time round it'll be held in Boston.

There has been a general climb in users of OpenStack, and the word of the day will likely continue to be around containers.

Agatha Poon, research director for the APAC region at 451 Research, says she expects to see “a lot more real-world examples” of OpenStack deployments across regions, and in particular the commercial use of OpenStack in different verticals.

“On the product front, I would expect to hear more about the support for container-based deployment tools, application frameworks, and ecosystem,” Poon says. “And having achieved the platinum member status, I expect to hear a lot from Huawei at the summit in Boston.”

In particular, the emerging markets are a large growth area for OpenStack.

According to Poon, service providers are likely to continue to talk up container-based technologies but to progress there will need to be a consensus formed on the right use-cases for the customers.

“So far they talk about is to have the scale, you will probably use container-based technologies,” she says. “But other than that they’re trying to figure out what else they can do with container technologies.”

That might look like more details about containers not just at the infrastructure level but also how to support applications, and more details about the kinds of applications that will benefit from using container technologies, who’s doing that, and how far along they are.

Although adoption of OpenStack is on the up, the foundation has had some high-profile knocks of late.

Last year HPE significantly cut down funding for its OpenStack operations and Cisco followed suit shortly afterwards. HPE slashed its OpenStack employees, and Mirantis also cut its OpenStack engineers following its acquisition of TCP Cloud.

SUSE swooped in to acquire HPE’s OpenStack and Cloud Foundry assets from HPE, which was completed this year.

The high-profile departures raised questions about vendor commitment to OpenStack, leaving Rackspace as one of the few big Western vendors standing.

And just this month Intel slashed funding for the joint Intel-Rackspace OpenStack Innovation  Center, an initiative that was just a few years old, and designed to accelerate the development and adoption of OpenStack in the enterprise. 

Agatha Poon from 451 believes that enterprise use will continue to chug along. “They do need to spend a lot of investment and time to make it work for enterprise,” she says. “But for those who are actually down that path, I think they really like the openness of the platform, because a lot of the service providers believe the future way of developing services, allows them to develop microservices coming from OpenStack API-driven architectures.

“I think from that standpoint they’re still very tuned into that, but in terms of feature sets and capabilities or functionality, there’s always something they need to address.”

User survey highlights growth in adoption rate

The OpenStack Foundation has also released the twice-yearly OpenStack User Survey (PDF) ahead of next month’s Summit.

The Survey, which polled 1,300 users worldwide about their thoughts on the open source cloud platform, found that there were still stumbling blocks ahead. Although there was a rise in adoption, users polled said that installation was too complicated and that the lifecycle of releases needs further attention.

Users asked that the feature request process be made easier, and more transparency on delivery dates and when features will be made available. They cited concerns for installation particularly for TripleO and HA deployments, and said that a common deployment and lifecycle management tool would make life easier, along with the automation of installations and standardised automated deployment methods.

Containers were of particular interest to users, with 65 percent of those running containers inside OpenStack using the Docker runtime, and 47 percent of users orchestrating apps on OpenStack opting for Kubernetes.

A typical deployment, according to the survey, is at nine projects – and the average age of these deployments rests at just 1.68 years. Over half of the surveyed deployments started between 2016 and 2017.

See also: 451 cloud pricing report suggests OpenStack breakthrough

Users commented that the community is an especially important area where the open source platform stands up well. One user said in the report: “OpenStack has the benefit of thousands of developers all over the world working in tandem to develop the strongest, most robust, and most secure product that they can.”

Users also cited avoiding vendor lock-in as a main driver for running OpenStack, a point that vendors offering OpenStack services are particularly keen to highlight. Others said that being on the open source platform brought other competitive advantages like operational efficiency and, simply, saving cash – although these were not rated as highly as avoiding vendor lock-in.

User satisfaction in the survey seems to have taken a slight knocking, but this could be expected with the reported increase in new deployments.

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