Has OpenStack Finally Arrived?


By Lionel Gibbons | November 09, 2016 | OpenStack



arrivals.jpgAs the dust settles from October’s OpenStack Summit in Barcelona, Spain, it seems like a good time to take stock. How is OpenStack doing? Is it still the darling of DevOps devotees everywhere, or is it fading into obscurity like so many hot technologies that came before it?

One way to judge is the event itself – the OpenStack Summit. Another is to see what people who are actually deploying it are saying in the OpenStack User Survey update. Let’s have a look.

OpenStack Summit : Barcelona

By all reports, the Barcelona event was a bit more subdued than summits of the recent past. Large vendors such as HP (now HPE) and Cisco had a significant presence at past events, but that wasn’t the case this October. Some of that could simply be due to marketing budgets being stretched, and vendors focusing on the traditionally larger event in the US. Or, maybe there are other reasons. Ben Kepes writes in Computerworld, that Barcelona marked a turning point in OpenStack’s evolution, while acknowledging that there are more production deployments than ever before. So it would seem that OpenStack continues to find its way in the world. Perhaps not at the pace that the hype of recent years had promised, but rather with workmanlike efficiency – carrying real workloads for organizations of many stripes.

Survey says….

While it may be tempting to draw conclusions about OpenStack’s future from the summit, we really need to look at more than that to really understand. Fortunately, the OpenStack foundation has been vigilant in gathering information from its members on a regular basis. Results from the most recent OpenStack User Survey were published last month, and they paint a positive picture.

You like me!

Opinions about the value of Net Promoter Score (NPS) vary, but most agree that an improving NPS is a good thing. The latest survey shows that OpenStack’s NPS score continues to rise – by 8 points since the last survey in April. And with a score of 43, OpenStack remains well above the industry median NPS score of 22. The bottom line is that people who use OpenStack are satisfied with it.

Production deployments are up

The days of treating OpenStack as a science project are behind us. According to the latest survey, production deployments of OpenStack are up by 20% over the year before. That means more people are using OpenStack to solve real problems in the real world. This result prompted the OpenStack foundation to say that, “…OpenStack is more prevalent and full-functioning than ever.”

More OpenStack Demployments are in Production
More OpenStack Demployments are in Production


OpenStack Drivers

So we know people like it, but what does it do for them? What are the main benefits of using OpenStack? According to the survey, the three most important reasons people are using OpenStack are to:

  1. Save money over alternative infrastructure choices
  2. Increase operational efficiency
  3. Accelerate the organization’s ability to innovate

Container mania, hard servers, and soft networks

For the third year in a row, containers tops the list of new or emerging technologies of interest to OpenStack users. This is a good thing, since container adoption in the real world continues to grow, albeit cautiously. The OpenStack community plans to be ready when the adoption rate for containers gains real traction. The latest survey also revealed an increased interest in software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV), and bare metal servers.

Everybody’s cloud

A final interesting takeaway from the survey was that the size of company that is using OpenStack can be categorized as – all of the above. Deployments are active in companies large and small. While the survey didn’t speculate why this was the case, one reason may be the fact that OpenStack is open source. With no single vendor controlling its destiny, everyone gets to use the same software and use it in any way they see fit, making OpenStack a great cloud equalizer.

OpenStack Demployments by Company Size
OpenStack Demployments by Company Size

What does it all mean?

So what does it all mean? How much should we read into the fact that the Summit in Barcelona may have been a tad more subdued than prior events? And what should we make of the fact that production-grade deployments are up by 20% over last year?

Taken together, I think it means that OpenStack has arrived. Perhaps not at its final destination, but in the sense that it has survived the “hype” stage, and is moving on to the phase where new technologies become useful, practical tools. Which is a good thing. After all, isn’t that what every new technology strives to achieve?

What do you think? Let us know in the comments.