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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.

After trying out OpenStack, he decided to invest further in an OpenStack package hardened by Piston Cloud Computing Co. But OpenStack is not a be-all-end-all platform, he says. It's good for managing clouds and cloud-based applications that have frequently changing infrastructure needs, as well as supporting rapidly provisioning of resources for creating new applications. But it's not, at least right now, the best platform for managing fairly stable more traditional workloads - VMware is still a fine fit for those.

That fundamental premise - that OpenStack is good for some tasks, but not all - may be the reason the project is still looking to significantly ramp up its user base.

Many of OpenStack's earliest adopters have used the platform as a basis for brand new deployments that will serve new cloud applications, Gartner's Leong says. Organizations are not typically deploying OpenStack to run existing or legacy applications. "You have to think if you're an enterprise: Is it worthwhile to migrate those existing workloads from the environments where they sit relatively happily, or do you simply want to go after new workloads?" If OpenStack is the platform for those new workloads, then it has a small footprint now, but that is expected to only grow in importance.

Chen agrees. "OpenStack is still in the watching, and maybe a little bit of (proof of concept) stage for most enterprises," he says.

Mainly do-it-yourself service providers have latched onto the project, but he says it's likely still at least a year or two away from being a significant play in the enterprise market. More offerings that are fully supported need to be rolled out, he says, and perhaps even more broadly, enterprises need to have a case for using cloud in general, even that is only slowly being undertaken in the enterprise market now. "It's just a matter of time," he says. "With all the products and vendors involved in the project, it's hard to see how OpenStack will not be a success in some form. It's just a question of what form that will be."


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