Taking Stock of OpenStack’s Rapid Growth

With another successful OpenStack Summit in the books, I wanted to take a minute to reflect on three big areas of maturity that are rapidly emerging for the project: user maturity, software maturity and a focus on cloud operations.

Users Take Center Stage

First, it has become increasingly clear that the number of new users and the growth of existing ones marks a turning point for OpenStack. New users like Disney and Wells Fargo are stepping up to talk about how OpenStack figures into their agile infrastructure plans, advocating for the project and encouraging their vendors to come along for the ride.

ATT

At the same time, existing users like AT&T, Comcast and Bloomberg are expanding their footprints. Comcast’s is footprint now 5x larger than what they talked about in Portland just one year ago. Bloomberg is now in production. They’re all participating actively in the community, both as upstream contributors (Comcast was a top 20 contributor to the Icehouse release) and as operators.

On the other end of the spectrum, smaller organizations like Budd Van Lines, DigitalFilm Tree, BioIQ, and government agencies like the USDA have stepped onto the Summit stage to talk about their use of OpenStack and the workloads they’re running. Check out the playlist of user presentations on YouTube.

Users are important. Critical, in fact. To that point, some observers obsess over how many OpenStack users are visible. In 2012, they asked, “Where are the big companies?” Then, AT&T, Comcast and eBay raised their hands. Last year, they asked, “But, where are the enterprises?” Then, companies like Disney, Sony, Wells Fargo, Bloomberg and Fidelity raised their hands.

Now, the question they ask is, “But where are the companies of all sizes and industries, running OpenStack at scale, for all workloads, in production, with specifics and details?” And as more users start raising their hands, they’ll find something else to chirp about.

Where are the users? They were in Atlanta last week, and the people who were there saw them. The summit in Atlanta attracted more than 4,500 attendees from 55 countries:

  • Two of the top three entertainment companies were there and spoke about using OpenStack (Disney and Time Warner).
  • Five of the seven largest telcos were in Atlanta and the top three (AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast) talked about their deployments.
  • About a third of the Fortune 100 was represented in Atlanta, as users, devs, operators, vendors or participants.
  • 39% of commercial banks in the Fortune 500 were present in Atlanta, including the top three. Six of the top eight were present.
  • More than two dozen users spoke at the Summit, in keynotes, solo presentations, panels, and vendor sessions.

When we talk about users, it’s not just about trotting out a list of names. It’s about what these users are doing with the software. Some, like Wells Fargo, are just getting started. Others, like AT&T, are well along the learning curve. But the bottom line is that we’re interested in how they are using OpenStack to grow, compete and do new things. These users are leaders in our community, and they’re making their voices heard.

Superuser Art

We don’t just have users. We have advocates. They’re users, developers, operators and vendors. We have community members. They’re engaged. And they’re changing how IT is done.

A new tool we launched last week to share stories about how users are engaged and using OpenStack to transform their organizations is the Superuser publication. Superusers are not large companies or even large deployments, necessarily. Rather, they’re the individuals who are taking the lead in their organizations to stay competitive in an economy that moves more rapidly every day.

As we move toward the next Summit in Paris this fall, our community will continue to focus on what users care about: a community to continuously improve the software and share best operational practices, a publication to merchandise use cases, and a marketplace of products and services they can tap into when they’re ready.

Honing the Code in Response to the User

Even with all the momentum and engagement around users, there’s a factor driving OpenStack’s adoption that’s equal in value. It’s the focus that our community has embraced with regard to hardening the code and on operations excellence.

Sony user story

An obvious case in point here is OpenStack Networking (Neutron). Sony is an active user who made clear last week several specific steps that need to be taken to harden Neutron. They weren’t the only user/operator with specific points of improvement to include in the upcoming Juno release.  As a result, look at the roadmap. User and operator feedback is now in the plan.

It’s a trend in the works since Hong Kong, when the plans were laid for such user and operator-focused features as rolling upgrades in Compute and federated identity management via the Identity Service.

Cloud Operators Engage With the Community

In Atlanta, we held our first operator working sessions during the day and a half Ops Meetup. More than 200 people who run OpenStack clouds showed up to share best practices and improve the practice of operating clouds built on OpenStack. Dozens of these operators have volunteered to organize working groups within the community to keep the feedback loop throughout the next development cycle.

Ops Meetup PTLs Intro

This new level of engagement is key to improving the OpenStack experience. Operators understand what it takes to make a cloud perform and meet the service levels users expect. Operators see how users actually use the cloud, and they have a view of application performance that can help improve the infrastructure in ways that devs and end users might not intuitively grasp.

The Software-Defined Economy, Delivered by OpenStack

We are now living in the software-defined economy.

No matter what size your organization is, it must move faster. Supply chain and IP advantages are fleeting and costly; organizations are realizing that continuous software innovation is critical in terms of building and preserving competitive advantage.

Companies are trying to figure out how to leverage their developers to make this happen. OpenStack is the infrastructure platform more and more of these companies are choosing to give their developers the tools they need to bring agility to a completely new paradigm of software development.

Software supported by agile infrastructure makes rapid innovation a reality, and the OpenStack community is making agile infrastructure a reality for a growing number of companies.

And the stakes couldn’t be higher. According to an analysis by Richard Foster, on average, an S&P 500 company is now being replaced about once every two weeks, either because of market cap decline or acquisition. And the churn rate of companies has been accelerating over time.

Corporations in the S&P 500 in 1958 lasted in the index for 61 years, on average. By 1980, the average tenure had shrunk to about 25 years. Today, it stands at just 18 years based on seven year rolling averages.

At the current churn rate, 75% of the S&P 500 will be replaced by 2027.

All this is at the heart of why every company either is a technology company or is becoming one. Users of OpenStack are putting software at the center of their strategies to do just that.