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Mark Shuttleworth on OpenStack: HPE layoffs prove 'big tent' approach has failed

Tamlin Magee | Nov. 1, 2016
OpenStack is not failing, it's just bullshit as a service that's failing, said the Ubuntu founder

Ubuntu founder and product lead at Canonical Mark Shuttleworth says he feels validated by his earlier claims that the expansion of OpenStack projects - known as the 'big tent' approach - would collapse and that the community needs to focus on its core services.

Speaking with Computerworld UK at the OpenStack Summit in Barcelona, Shuttleworth claims that the layoffs from the OpenStack teams at both HPE and Mirantis lend further credibility to his theory that all the surrounding bolt-ons, which he previously described as 'bullshit as a service' in an interview earlier this year, were detracting from OpenStack's reputation.

"I think it's reality check time for OpenStack and that's long overdue," he says. "Somewhat controversially, we have long said OpenStack needs to focus on the fundamentals - we have chosen to focus on the fundamentals, which is virtual networks, virtual compute, virtual disks, virtual machines. That aspect of OpenStack and the people who focused on that are doing very well.

"But there's another element of OpenStack, which was essentially a lot of projects really driven by a single vendor, which was hoping to save themselves by getting a cloud story," he continued. "My rule of thumb is if you're not [creating] virtual networks, compute or disks, and you can't survive on AWS, you are never going to survive on OpenStack. That's the bullshit as a service story, and look what's happened since.

"HPE has laid off their entire OpenStack team, those were the guys who were pushing Ironic, Trove, Heat. That was never going to work. Mirantis laid off 300 OpenStack developers - those were the guys pushing Savanna, pushing Solum, pushing bullshit as a service.

"If I had advice for OpenStack at large, it's get rid of BS as a service," he continues. "The other stuff taints the reputation of OpenStack. When Heat fails, everybody can easily think OpenStack is failing- it's not, it's just bullshit as a service that's failing.

"When Trove fails, everyone thinks OpenStack isn't going to work. No, it's just Trove that isn't working. Those things don't matter. So if I could counsel the community and the Foundation it would be finally, for heaven's sakes, just be clear that this stuff in the middle, that's OpenStack, everything else doesn't matter."

Shuttleworth goes on to say that OpenStack as a whole is doing "great" and markedly becoming more scalable - with better quality, reliability and performance as it continues to mature in the IaaS space.

"But there's the sort of, oh my god, reality check happening all around the periphery as people realise that what customers want is the basics done really well at a really great cost," he says. Shuttleworth adds that a lot of the intrinsically valuable problems to solve are in reducing complexity towards everyday work - backing up data to the cloud, fixing broken disks, safely rebooting a hypervisor, realigning IP addresses in a virtual network, and so on.


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