OpenStack is Boring! And it’s good for customers

openstack-logo-vertical As someone who has been covering OpenStack since its early days, the OpenStack Summit in Barcelona was one of the most attended OpenStack summits and a markedly different one from earlier summits. While some of the adjectives such as mature, secure, inter operable, reliable resonated among observers, key adjective that struck to me was ‘Boring‘.

And here is why it is great for customers:

Enterprise Vendors

Gone are the days when the OpenStack eco-system was dominated by niche, small players. It is now largely dominated by big players such as Red Hat, IBM, Dell EMC, with even Oracle trying to make an impact (!). While there are few small players such as Platform9, AVI Networks, AppFormix around, it is clearly not the same as OpenStack Paris Summit days. No player in the eco-system has ‘OpenStack only’ play anymore and even those with ‘OpenStack first’ play have pivoted to prioritize other platforms such as Kubernetes.

However boring this sounds, this is what customers want: stable and mature vendors offering well-rounded solutions with the capability to support entire stack. While a cool installer or new delivery model would excite them, a vast majority of enterprise/ large companies still rely upon ‘proven’ vendors.

More Tuxes than T-s

This is something I have been noticing since the Austin Summit: the audience demographics seem to be having more executives, directors, decision makers, marketing managers and architects (Tuxes) than developers/ operators (T-s). This gradual shift indicates the growing interest from decision makers; this also means one has more probability of seeing a bigger picture (and marketing pitches, ahem) than just a feature/ project. With the Design Summit getting split in to two events, this trend is only going to continue.

No Distro Wars

The Barcelona summit was the first summit to have no distribution wars in long time – mellowed down news releases around version updates, no public feuds (may be one, but not related to distros) or size (code contribution/ PTL count)  comparisons :). It won’t be long before customers have only 3 OpenStack distributions to pick from and the decision will not be based on feature differentiation. Hmm, boring right?

But this will actually help customers in two ways. Vendors not focusing on feature differentiation at their proprietary distribution but upstream means more focus on upstream bits more stable and usable. Less number of equally good choices of distributions prevents customers from decision fatigue and enables them to focus on what’s running on OpenStack. OpenStack user surveys also reveal an increasing pattern on adoption among select services, platforms and tools.

No big parties!

OpenStack summits are known for parties. While there were lot of small (private) parties this time, there was no big party at all! It is very much possible that lack of budget/ sponsorship is the main reason, lack of such parties set the tone of the OpenStack community. It shows the intent to spend $ on right things – content, product and people. Partying can come later!

Please note that such parties never had any impact on the product quality or customer traction, they are just one probe to read the pulse of the community.

Analyst Coverage

Since 451 Research OpenStack Pulse and Forrester OpenStack Enterprise Readiness reports, analyst coverage on OpenStack has been more positive. Not to mention Donna Scott’s keynote at Austin Summit 🙂 This is probably the first summit with no scathing analyst report on OpenStack at all. Analysts have ‘cool’ things to cover now (Kubecon/ CloudNativeCon this week 🙂 to begin with).

Change in the tone of analyst coverage on OpenStack is not a coincidence or overnight phenomenon. It captures OpenStack’s journey and where it is now. Adjectives like mainstream, proven, reliable, successful are hard earned, and OpenStack deserves them! Analysts would like to see more work in areas such as consolidating project proliferation, messaging, governance etc. But, general consensus around analysts currently is more positive than ever.

Summary

captureOpenStack has established itself as the de-facto private cloud platform and has embraced well threats and related technologies/ projects. It is seeing more revenues, larger adoption (with Snapdeal, Sky, Banco Santander), growth in interesting verticals and rapid growth in some geographic locations like China. In its early days, OpenStack was often equated to custom shiny race car. While OpenStack didn’t turn out to be a Tesla, it turned out to be Prius – reliable, consistent and stable that one can always rely upon. Boring, but take a ride, you won’t be disappointed!

And reference to ‘hybrid’ is purely coincidental 🙂

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