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OpenStack Taking Its Place in the Software-Defined Economy

We are now living in the software-defined economy.

I blogged about this back in May, after talking about it in a keynote at OpenStack Summit in Atlanta. Since then, the meme has sort of caught on.

Here’s the idea:

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.

Keynoting About It

I’m going to talk more about OpenStack’s role in the software-defined economy at OpenStack Silicon Valley, a community event taking place at the Computer History Museum on September 16. Specifically, I’ll look at the role that infrastructure agility plays in the software-defined economy. You can register here, and if you’re attending VMworld, Oracle OpenWorld or the Paris Summit, you can get in free.

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. The stakes are high: Richard Foster conducted an analysis in which he says, among other things:

  • On average, an S&P 500 company is being replaced about once every two weeks, either because of market cap decline or acquisition.
  • 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.

But here’s the punch line:

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

This lies 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.

Join me at OpenStack Silicon Valley to talk about how we position the project for continued success as the infrastructure of choice to drive the software-defined economy.


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.


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.

Clarification re: Board Activity

Today the OpenStack Foundation is releasing the following statement:

“The OpenStack Foundation is aware of media reports that discuss the commercial activities of Red Hat and other OpenStack vendors. The Board has not met to discuss this issue, nor has the Board taken a formal position on the issue. Although certain Board members in their individual capacity have commented on the issue, they are not representing the views of the OpenStack Foundation, which would require Board action. The Board has not scheduled a meeting on the issue, but may discuss it at the next scheduled Board meeting. All questions should be directed to Jonathan Bryce, the Executive Director of the Foundation. “

As noted, you may direct questions to me:  [email protected]

Participate in the OpenStack User Survey by April 11!

We’re kicking off the third round of the OpenStack User Survey this month! You may remember before last November’s Summit in Hong Kong, we helped the User Committee run a survey to aggregate OpenStack deployments and share the results.

Hong Kong Survey Results

The survey received nearly twice as many answers as the previous round (822 compared to 414) and 387 deployments compared to 187.

The first User Survey in Spring 2013 provided great insight to the types of deployments and technology decisions made by the OpenStack community. We were able to catalogue 230 unique deployments – you can see the results presented by the User Committee at the last Spring Summit. Another huge benefit was the ability to uncover new users willing to talk about their OpenStack deployments, which can be found here:

If you are an OpenStack user or have customers with OpenStack deployments, please take a few minutes to respond to our User Survey and pass it along to your network. The goals of the survey are to better define the OpenStack user community and requirements, facilitate engagement and communication among the user community, and uncover new use cases or OpenStack users who might be willing to tell their stories publicly.

Below you’ll find a link and instructions to complete the User Survey by April 11, 2014 at 23:00 UTC. If you already completed the survey last year, there’s no need to start from scratch. You simply need to log back in to update your Deployment Profile, as well as take the opportunity to provide any additional input.

All the information provided is confidential and will only be presented in aggregate unless the user consents to making it public. Aggregate responses will be shared with the OpenStack Board, Technical Committee and community at large to help shape the roadmap and share useful information regarding operational decisions.

You can also help us by promoting the survey so we can secure as much participation as possible, for example by retweeting the OpenStack handle: @OpenStack

Remember, you can hear directly from users and see the aggregate survey findings by attending the next OpenStack Summit, May 12-16, in Atlanta.

Thank you for your support!


OpenStack 2014: Powered by Users

If momentum is any indication, 2014 is poised to be a defining year for OpenStack. All of our vital statistics, from community growth to code commits and tracked deployments, doubled in 2013, and all signs point to continued growth. Still, we continue to hear the questions:

Who’s really driving OpenStack?

Are there too many cooks in the kitchen?

What defines OpenStack, and do we need all of the new programs?

Where’s the voice of the user?

These points reflect the common question of how decisions are made in the OpenStack community. As we start a new year, we in the OpenStack Foundation are putting our resources behind elevating the voice of OpenStack users and tightening the feedback loop between users and developers to influence decisions such as the scope of the project, new feature priorities, interoperability requirements and operational best practices.

Balancing Voices In Software Development

Every foundational technology platform is driven by common forces: the developers who build it, users who consume it, and the ecosystem of vendors that extend it. OpenStack’s development process is unique because it is designed to allow all of these constituencies to directly influence the cloud platform.

In OpenStack, technical decisions – everything from new features to long-term roadmap – are governed by a technical meritocracy in which Program Technical Leads manage the involvement of developers and users in their programs under the oversight of a Technical Committee. The Board of Directors of the OpenStack Foundation, by comparison, focuses its attention on long-term policy, strategy and governance.

Each of these groups already includes representatives who are responsible for real-world OpenStack usage in their organizations, but we can benefit from even greater involvement from users. As we work to raise the level of user involvement, we see that some are simply not as comfortable with open source, but also that our process can be intimidating to dive in and get involved with so many people and moving parts.

The fact we often miss is that technology development is a messy process regardless of how decisions are made. Whether you’re talking about open source or proprietary software, deciding how to evolve a code base is beset by the same kinds of tradeoffs, optimizations and calculated gambles. In the end, your goal is to deliver software that solves a particular set of problems.

For OpenStack, the community chose an open process that relies on the disinfectant of transparency to maximize the chances that all points of view are heard, considered and when embraced by the community, incorporated into the code. How we make decisions in the OpenStack community is a source of strength.

Transparency Is Noisy

Of course, transparency by its very nature exposes the world at large to much more information, insight and noise than a tightly controlled process. A rapidly growing, global, diverse and passionate community of developers and users will disagree. That disagreement is often very useful even if it isn’t always going to be pretty.

But guess what? Because it’s an open process, you get to see it all and participate where you want to make an impact. Backroom and backchannel conversations are still present, to be sure, but their effect is kept in proportion. If you want to understand why particular technical decisions were made – as in the case of the networking stack, for example, with both Neutron and nova-network still present as options – it’s a relatively straightforward matter to find out. In that particular case, when you look, you’ll discover that users said they still needed features available in nova-network, so the deprecation schedule was extended to give Neutron additional time to meet their requirements.

Uncovering the decision chain in other open source projects isn’t always that simple. And with proprietary software, it’s virtually impossible, because the trail of communication from the end user goes through the sales or support organization to product management to the development team like a high stakes game of telephone. It’s a system that’s been in place for a long time, but there’s also a growing consensus that we can’t build software the way we used to.


This level of transparency can be a distraction, and it sometimes makes for snarky, counterproductive and ill-informed side conversations. As we’ve seen in the past year, it can also lead to misunderstandings among the media and analyst communities covering OpenStack with regard to why decisions are made and where the project is headed. But messiness as a result of transparency is not our enemy. Our enemy is an opaque process with no accountability and responsibility to the people using the software.

Amplifying the User Voice in 2014

I have worked with many developers over nearly 20 years, and the ones who have built the best software had a passion for meeting the needs of their users. As we have ramped up the User Committee and put user input mechanisms in place, OpenStack technical leaders have been very enthusiastic about receiving this feedback. That work influenced improvements in the Havana and Icehouse development cycles, and will continue to do so in the Juno release and beyond.

Users bring valuable contributions to the project, whether they are directly contributing code, open sourcing their management tools, contributing to documentation, sharing operational best practices at user group meetups or capturing their experiences through the User Survey and Design Summit talks. In 2014, we are bringing several new initiatives to life to bring the voice of the user closer to our process to deliver the best cloud software:

  • Closing the Feedback Loop – The user and technical communities are working to close the feedback loop in the design and development process to make sure we are delivering user-driven features. Specific activities include an operator’s mini-session to gather input well before the Design Summit, beefing up the user survey with more specific feedback requests, and having more user representatives engage directly on technical mailing lists and in technical Summit sessions.
  • Ramping Up Support of Application Developers and Cloud End Users – A major focus this year will be moving beyond cloud operators to attract and support the growing community of app developers and OpenStack end users. Current projects underway include an aggregation of popular SDKs and developer resources for OpenStack clouds, as well as adding new survey questions for application developers, largely driven by community member Everett Toews. The Technical Committee is also considering how to incorporate a new program focused on user/consumer experience.
  • Establishing Baseline Interoperability Testing – The community is engaged in creating baseline interoperability testing for OpenStack products and open source distributions. Rob Hirschfeld and Joshua McKenty are leading a Board of Directors committee to drive this effort, and it’s important that we have operators and end-users engaged, especially as we work to create a consistent target a better experience for the latter.
  • Clarifying the Path to Adoption – With such a vibrant commercial ecosystem, and still many organizations who are running it themselves, one of the most common questions we hear is how to get started with OpenStack. The answer depends on many factors, including your use case and technology expertise, and this year the Foundation staff is helping users make sense of the many ways to consume OpenStack, expanding on efforts like the Training marketplace.
  • Growing Ambassador Program – Our community managers are also ramping up the global Ambassador program, which will empower more community members to get involved in these initiatives as well as through our traditional contribution channels. We now have 12 Ambassadors in eight countries.

This is of course not an exhaustive list, but they represent key activities in 2014, and now is the time to get involved, whether it’s completing a user survey, joining the interoperability testing efforts, or volunteering with the User Committee.

Pioneering a Better Way to Build Software

We in the OpenStack community are pioneering new ways to do collaborative software development at very large scale. We’re meeting our biannual release cadence, growing our base of contributors, and our testing and review process is already being emulated by other software projects. Reflecting on success is good, but there’s more work to be done.

In 2014, we are committed to bringing more users into our open and transparent process, helping them to participate directly in building great cloud software. When we balance the voices and contributors involved in all parts of OpenStack, we see the incredible power of a diverse community, focused in the same direction, driving change across our industry.

OpenStack Governance Update

We’ve built quite an open source community together since we launched less than eight months ago!  What started as a small group of people committed to building an open cloud standard, has grown to hundreds of developers and more than 50 participating organizations virtually overnight.  From the beginning, this community was founded with the goal of diversity of participation and a firm commitment to what we call “the 4 opens”:  Open Source, Open Design, Open Development and Open Community.

As we take stock of the amazing interest and growth, keeping in mind the initiative’s goals and commitment to openness, the time has come to evolve the governance process to match the new reality of a larger, more diverse community.  To that end, the governance process has been updated, with full details published here.

As you read through the highlights below, we encourage you to get personally involved to steer this community to an even bigger, brighter future.  Whether it’s participating in a spirited debate on the mailing list, attending the bi-annual design summits, or even running for one of the elected positions, there are a lot of ways to get involved and there’s no time like the present to dive in.  Nominations and elections will be held later this month for many elected positions.


  • Each Project — OpenStack Compute (Nova), OpenStack Object Storage (Swift), and the OpenStack image service (Glance) will elect their own Project Technical Leads (starting later this month, March 2011) to run the projects and make day-to-day technical decisions.  Elections will be held every six months, just prior to each design summit, and these elected leaders will be instrumental in guiding those public design summits and setting the future direction of their project.
  • The Project Oversight Committee – which has been charged with setting policies that span projects as well as determining when new projects should be added – will be renamed the Project Policy Board effective immediately, to better reflect their mission.
  • This Project Policy Board will be revamped to become more nimble and ensure broad representation.  Specifically, 2/3 of the seats on the board will now be elected rather than appointed by Rackspace:
    • 5 General Board Seats elected to one-year terms, with elections occurring prior to each design summit (2 each spring*, 3 each Fall)
    • 3 Board Seats reserved for the winners of the Project Technical Lead elections* (more as we add projects)
    • 4 seats appointed by Rackspace
  • We are establishing an OpenStack Advisory Board of senior advisors comprised of major commercial sponsors (those who are building businesses on OpenStack), enterprises and service providers who are deploying it, and category experts.  The primary function of this body is to provide guidance on OpenStack’s mission, and to evangelize on its behalf.  Prior to the Spring 2011 Design Summit, Rackspace will appoint the initial members from a variety of organizations – but the board will then determine its own plans and requirements for expansion.

*Upcoming Elections:  As noted above, a total of 5 seats are up for election later this month, March 2011, prior to the Spring 2011 Design Summit.  3 of these will be Project Technical Leads for the respective projects, and will also sit on the Project Policy Board representing those respective communities, and 2 will be General Board Members.  More details soon regarding the nomination and election process.

Again, we invite everyone to get involved and have your voice heard.  If you’re interested in running for the Project Policy Board, or becoming a Project Technical Leader, now’s the time to throw your hat in the ring.  Registration for the second public Design Summit will open in the next few days, in which members of the community set the roadmap and make technical decisions to drive the projects forward.  You can get plugged in with our new community page at

OpenStack Project Oversight Committee

The OpenStack Project Oversight Committee (POC) was formed at the end of last year. The committee is a mixture of appointed and community elected members who fill nine seats. The current members are Jesse Andrews, Jonathan Bryce, Rick Clark, Soren Hansen, Mark Interrante, Vish Ishaya, Joshua McKenty, Ewan Mellor and Chuck Thier. One of the responsibilities of the POC is to approve policies for the operation of OpenStack sub-projects.

As Rick mentioned in this week’s release meeting, one policy has just been approved–a procedure for adding developers to core teams. This was a policy that was proposed to the general OpenStack mailing list for open discussion. After a period of time, the POC then took up discussion of the issue and voted to adopt the proposal. John Purrier has followed a similar process for a number of proposals and the POC is currently considering two.

The majority of POC discussion and voting has happened on a Launchpad group mailing list. Archives are publicly available and anyone interested in reviewing the detailed discussion can view the threads here:

In addition, the POC will be holding regular IRC meetings, and the logs and minutes of those meetings will be available as well. A summary of POC activity and links to relevant information will be available on the OpenStack wiki:

In the last six months, OpenStack has grown and matured, and we have heard a lot of great feedback on the governance model. As the year progresses, I expect that we will continue to refine and improve our governance processes and models. If you have feedback, suggestions, or questions, please share them with me ([email protected]).

2010 Architecture Board Elections

Starting on Monday, November 1, OpenStack willl be holding the community elections for the OpenStack Architecture Board. We have posted a list of twelve nominees on the wiki. You can visit the wiki page to see the list and read a little about each of the candidates:

The voting is open to everyone who has signed the Contributor License Agreement and is a member of one of the OpenStack Launchpad projects. We will be making use of Condorcet Voting Service ( for the election. Those who have signed the Contributor License Agreement and are a member of one of the OpenStack Launchpad projects will be receiving an email on Monday with a link to the online voting system. We will leave the polling open for 48 hours and then announce the results.

As explained on the Governance page of the wiki, there are four seats up for election. After we close the polling, the four candidates who received the most votes will begin serving either a one or two-year term.

Thank you to all the candidates for volunteering for this effort! If any of you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

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