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OpenStack: Still waiting for the users

Brandon Butler | May 20, 2014
OpenStack has an impressive list of corporate backers. Red Hat, Rackspace, HP, IBM and AT&T are contributing thousands of lines of code to the open source project and helping deliver an updated version of the cloud computing platform twice a year to allow for easier installation and better manageability.

OpenStack has an impressive list of corporate backers. Red Hat, Rackspace, HP, IBM and AT&T are contributing thousands of lines of code to the open source project and helping deliver an updated version of the cloud computing platform twice a year to allow for easier installation and better manageability.

Vendors such as HP, Ubuntu, VMware, Yahoo, NetApp, Juniper Networks, Cisco and Dell are all contributing to OpenStack. Even Comcast, Avaya, F5, EMC, Fujitsu, Oracle and Alcatel Lucent have given money and code to the project. OpenStack has no shortage of vendors who believe this software could play an important role in the future of open source cloud computing, and they want in on it.

OpenStack has grown from a mish-mash of code, born out of code half contributed by Rackspace and the other half from NASA in 2010, and has now turned into a force in the cloud world. Thousands of developers contribute to its code each year and vendors line up to get their sponsorships in with it.

But if the project needs one thing, it's end users.

Despite all that support from service providers across the technology industry, adoption of OpenStack is still so small that IDC analyst Gary Chen says the firm does not even have market share data for it. Some say this is the natural evolution of an initiative that only really got going in earnest two years ago with the creation of an independent foundation to govern the project. Others question with all the marketing and corporate backers, shouldn't there be more end users at this point?

OpenStack in the wild

While there could perhaps be more, its not like there aren't any OpenStack users. In the past six to eight months many big name companies like PayPal, Wells Fargo, The Gap, Ericsson and departments at universities like MIT and the University of California have all deployed OpenStack clouds to some degree. Rackspace runs a major part of its international public cloud footprint on OpenStack. But it still seems there is disconnect between the vendor hype of OpenStack and the amount and nature of end user enterprise deployments of it.

Adrian Ionel, president and CEO of pure-play OpenStack distributor Mirantis, doesn't disagree that there is a gap between the vendors and end users but he says, "it's closing quickly." Mirantis is happy to list a litany of customers who are using the framework. For some customers, like PayPal, OpenStack is a key central platform to the company's IT strategy. Other companies, like John Deere, are testing it out to determine if a larger engagement makes sense.

One of the latest big-name users to join the fold was Ericsson. Mirantis recently closed a five-year $30 million deal to evolve the mobile operator's backend infrastructure to be managed by OpenStack - which was hailed by the Wall Street Journal as a "milestone" deal for OpenStack.

 

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