I recently attended my first OpenStack User Group (UG) session here at the Melbourne chapter and I wanted to provide some thoughts and feedback on my experience.
About the User Group
We all met at a The Kelvin Club which was quite different for me, I actually enjoyed playing snooker/pool while networking and it was a good way to break the ice with attendees. There were about 20 people in attendance who were a good mix of people ranging from university students through to business managers, developers, integrators and vendors (Red Hat were in attendance and are also part of the steering committee). There was also a guest attendee from Rackspace who I found quite interesting to speak with and hear their perspective on the industry.
It was OpenStack’s 4th Birthday celebration and free beer was provided! It was a networking event with no presentations. David Flanders (@dfflanders) who leads the group opened the meeting and was great in introducing new members and preparing everyone to start networking!
About the Technology
I wanted to attend this UG as I’m keen to talk technology, get my ear to the ground and understand better how OpenStack is being adopted locally. My main 2 questions were: –
- Who’s using it
- Who’s wrapping services around it to resell into the cloud space?
From the various conversation I had I was able to glean the following (warning! this information is based on my interpretation of these said conversations).
- There are very few OpenStack production implementations locally
- There is a large scale university joint venture currently being implemented, this seemed to represent the majority of production experience of the people attending the event who basically held various roles within this project including Developers and Integrators (you can check out project Nectar for more details)
- There were several attendees involved in committing code to the OpenStack community (I’ll admit this was a new concept to me, although my focus was more on how OpenStack is being used it’s great to hear about developers being directly involved in the evolution of the product – open source eh? – so kudos to these people!)
- There was mention of other implementations, but these seemed to be more focused around product discovery and gap analysis of features.It’s probably common knowledge to most people but just in case, there was consensus at the event that OpenStack today is by no means a complete product, there are gaps in the features of the solution (topics discussed included HA, management and reporting functionality and also solution deployment).Personally, I don’t think this is a bad thing being open source means the product is in a constant state of development and with this comes the fact that there’s always more features to be added into the source code. OpenStack openly encourage 3rd parties to take their base technology and provide the glue to make it more enterprise consumable and meet the requirements of their target audience of customers. There’s been a number of companies who’ve benefited using this approach (for example Mirantis, Nebular and Piston) along with a number of vendors who have quickly got involved including RedHat, HP and Cisco (these companies were all mentioned during discussions).
- Scale seemed to be a really important topic and there was a lot of discussion on how big you can go. Personally (while I think this is important), it’s probably more specific to a subset of customers e.g. service providers. To me what’s more important to organisations is the adoption of alternative cost effective technologies over traditional enterprise IT based infrastructure – I could go into a rant about commodity hardware at this point, but I’ll save that for another post 🙂
- File Systems were also discussed, which is another topic I’m interested in, there was specific discussion about flash/SSD and its impact on storage architectures which in turn impacts on compute and network architecture (moving designs away from being performance constrained to capacity)
- I guess I was steering these conversations a tiny bit but we also talked about Software Defined Networking, not just for scale but also for Layer2/3 abstraction and IP Address portability (all problems faced with current infrastructure architectures.
What was interesting for me was the different types of people attending the UG, being able to discuss what peoples experiences were with OpenStack along with hearing about why people were attending the UG proved to be valuable in understanding the current OpenStack landscape.
In my opinion, it’s still early days for OpenStack locally here in Melbourne, Australia. From hearing the conversations the technology is in the early adoption stages with education leading the way using open source (as one would expected). It will be interesting to see how it’s adopted locally by customers and what service providers/vendors/integrators will leverage it as a base technology for their future local service offerings. That being said, I think the technology has great potential in creating a level playing field for Service Providers (both public and private).
I think it’s a great achievement for OpenStack to attain this level of maturity after only being around for 4 years. I guess this is one of the main benefits of open source compared to other business models for software development. But to engage with the open source community locally OpenStack have invested in building a local presence and engaging with the local IT community through initiatives like UG’s.
This for me is the key different in approach compared with traditional marketing techniques employed by most technology companies…