A Postcard from OpenStack Benelux


The Bright team has just come back from the OpenStack Benelux conference, and we had a blast.

We were excited to see that this event is on the same fast track taken by the official OpenStack Summits. The number of participants has almost doubled; from about 300 last year to an estimated 500 in 2015. The expo floor was also much more substantial, with many cloudy products to see, and interesting people to talk to.

To use Ruud Harmsen's words, who is the CEO of Fairbanks (the organizing company); it wouldn’t be a Benelux OpenStack conference without a keynote from the OpenStack foundation. Last year it was Alan Clark, a chairman of the board. This year it was another board of directors member, Monty Taylor. He opened up with an energetic presentation that gave everyone insights on the day to day challenges involved in operating the core infrastructure backing the OpenStack project. He talked about how the typical cloud approach of running disposable VMs is a core concept within their infrastructure. He stressed that they don’t really have their own private cloud, but rather run their VMs across several public clouds around the globe.

Allison Randal’s (HP), keynote gave a really good overview of how software has been changing the world. She talked about how open source has been taking the place of proprietary software in many areas, and how OpenStack is a very good example of coopetition between different companies -- competing businesses working together on creating common software, with everyone benefiting in the process.

As a side note, a very good example is the telco market and their OPENFV initiative, which aims to accelerate the introduction of virtualizing networking functions using technologies like Ceph, KVM, and of course OpenStack.

Although coopetition is a great idea, it all boils down to how it’s implemented. As she described, in a traditional approach, decision makers from various coopeting companies define goals, pass them on to developers/engineers who get together once in awhile, and then hold group discussions during OpenStack Summits and inter-summit meetups. That’s not optimal. Allison introduced the audience to an effort within the OpenStack community called “OpenStack Product Working Group”. It’s a community that comprises OpenStack PTLs (Project Technical Leads), developers, operators, and decision makers from contributing companies, which creates a shared forum where individual goals and requirements can be discussed across organizations, in an effort to help better drive a common OpenStack long-term roadmap.

Overall, the variety of topics covered during the keynotes and panel session was pretty huge. If I were to pick any recurring theme from sessions which drew my attention, that would be the challenges facing the deployment process of OpenStack. Canonical talked about their Autopilot. Red Hat talked about their OpenStack Director and using triple-O to deploy OpenStack (the undercloud/overcloud approach) -- that’s OpenStack deploying OpenStack. This we’ve found particularly interesting, as HP recently dropped the triple-O deployment/management approach for their Helion 2.0. HP’s reasoning behind this was that orchestrating time/order-sensitive events with Heat can be problematic, which makes for tricky upgrades. On that note, I’m curious whether they had a look at the more time-critical alternative to Heat, project Mistral?

Unlike last year, where all the panel sessions were just bundled together, this year saw a clear split of panel sessions into two tracks, business and technical. This made it much easier to pick and choose the sessions which were right for you.

Overall, it’s clear that OpenStack, as a project, is well past its initial growing pains. It’s no longer about “how to solve a problem”, but rather about how to continue solving the problems it solves in a consistent, reliable, and enterprise-grade manner, and in a way which will be sustainable for years to come. And that’s definitely a good sign of a healthy community.

Similarly to last year, this year’s event was also concluded with a hilarious comedy act, this time by “Op Sterk Water”.

We’re already looking forward to next year’s OpenStack Benelux conference inching even closer to 1,000 attendees. And we hope to see you there!

Please get in touch to discuss this further.

Bright OpenStack