During Tuesday’s pre-conference sessions, the Software Defined Infrastructure (SDI) Summit in Santa Clara featured a lively panel discussion on the future of OpenStack. Bright’s Piotr Wachowicz, Cloud Integration Lead, joined panelists from GoDaddy, Tesora, Solinea, and C3DNA to discuss and debate the trends we are most likely to see unfold in the public and private cloud arenas. For those unable to attend the panel, here are some of the top takeaways:
1. OpenStack is poised to become “the third cloud.”
Rao Mikkilineni of C3DNA made a convincing case that private and public cloud should actually be viewed as three distinct categories: (1) broad public cloud services delivered on a massive scale by leading provider Amazon, as well as by fast followers Microsoft and Google. (2) Tailored cloud-as-a-service offerings delivered by a vast array of smaller service and solution providers, typically differentiated through architectures and offerings that meet specific niche requirements in the marketplace. (3) Private cloud, which will evolve from standalone, on-premise OpenStack deployments into larger, distributed environments (still OpenStack based) that are more networked and connected to one another.
2. OpenStack adoption will be accelerated by cost, customization, and differentiation goals.
Panelists and audience members aligned strongly behind the view that OpenStack adoption is being accelerated by a number of factors. Cost containment looms as a major driver, with many organizations seeing OpenStack as a less expensive alternative to metered cloud access, hosted cloud services, and licensed virtualization offerings. But cutting-edge organizations also have an eye to revenue. Amrith Kumar of Tesora sees OpenStack unlocking new opportunities for his customers to provide customized, differentiated services into the market. Ken Pepple from Solinea concurred, asserting that OpenStack liftoff is being achieved as its adoption expands outward from IT into engineering functions.
3. Migrating and rewriting legacy applications for the cloud will be a booming business.
Panel facilitator Lance Leventhal asked, “As organizations migrate to cloud, what will become of all the legacy applications?” In response, panelists cited the lingering market presence of many legacy platforms (such as mainframes and AS400s) and corresponding legacy applications. While the existence of these environments can serve as a drag on cloud adoption, they will also, inevitably, spur a long period of business activity and opportunity in the marketplace as most legacy applications will eventually need to be migrated or rewritten for the cloud.
4. We’ll know we’ve arrived when IT infrastructure becomes “boring” again.
OpenStack is currently prompting a high level of focus and excitement in the IT space. However, the ultimate goal, expressed by Ken Pepple and echoed by other panelists, is that OpenStack (and cloud, more broadly) should eventually become “really boring” and help us reach a point of not thinking so much about IT infrastructure. Before we get there, panelists cautioned, a lot of work still lies ahead shaping the multitude of OpenStack projects into a coherent platform and ensuring that the stringent security, reliability, compliance needs of enterprise IT are adequately met.
5. Container technology will play an important role in making the underlying IT infrastructure largely irrelevant.
All panelists embraced the vision that IT consumers shouldn’t have to care at all whether IT workloads are being performed in a public or hosted cloud, in a private cloud, or on a more traditional IT platform. According to Piotr Wachowicz of Bright Computing, the current industry focus on “containerizing” workloads, exemplified by Docker and Kubernetes, will play a critical role in liberating workloads from the underlying platform type. Piotr cited the example of a Canadian company already leveraging containerization to package up data processing workloads, ship them to a remote, off-premise location for processing, and receive back just the processed results.
As panelists offered their closing thoughts, Piotr summed up the overall sentiment of the panel as follows: “The future of OpenStack is Bright!”