Live Blog of OpenStack Silicon Valley 2014 Community Event live blog Part 1

This is a live blog of the inaugural OpenStack Silicon Valley Community Event, held at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California on September 16, 2014. It was put together by Mirantis, one of the biggest proponents of OpenStack.

The Agenda and Megathemes for the Day is given by Alex FreedlandMirantis Co-founder and Board Member of OpenStack Foundation. 

Freedland states that as someone who’s been involved with OpenStack since the beginning, four years ago, he has noticed a distinct qualitative change in OpenStack. We no longer have to prove that OpenFlow will win the open cloud game. It is here to stay and will be the open cloud platform of the future. The question we have to ask is “What will it look like when it matures and how will it appear to enterprises, service providers, etc?” Freedland feels we are entering OpenStack 2.0 and this event is about OS 2.0. Now that we are in the 2.0 territory, we are seeing a lot of huge deals, with some large companies entering at massive scale. The usage patterns we see are of agility and management. It’s necessary for Software Defined Economy to detect change quicker. In just four years, OpenStack is at least as large as Linux.

Next, up is a keynote by Martin Fink, EVP and CTO, HP and a late inclusion, Marten Mickos, CEO, Eucalyptus. The title was Looking ahead: OpenStack, Eucalyptus, Open Source, Enterprise and the cloud?

As HP recently announced plans to acquire Eucalyptus. Martin Fink and Marten Mickos present a look ahead at what this holds for open source, the cloud, the enterprise and OpenStack. Eucalyptus is open source private cloud software that supports industry standard AWS APIs and creates cloud resources for compute, network, and storage.


Martin Fink: “Beginning Nov/Dec last year, there was a massive swing of HP contributions towards OpenStack. Helion launched in May 2014. Today with Juno, HP is the No. #1 contributor to OpenStack. When we started working on open cloud, we felt we had to do it in the true spirit of open source, getting very close to trunk. When I was running the open source division at HP between 1999 and 2005, the funnest part was being in a room with competitors, like IBM, and working towards the overall benefit of open community. I made some friends along the way. We were not confused about when it was time to compete. HP and Mirantis compete in some areas, but today we are together. We’re not just delivering a distribution or a piece of software. We’re delivering the actual distro, the hardware along with it, and we deliver it any way you want: private, VPC, hybrid, public, you name it.”

Marten Mickos then comes on. The acquisition has not yet been finalized: Open source will win in Cloud by being modular, having competitors collaborate, having anyone to scrutinize & improve quality, by having Darwinism (good stuff survives), and by having less lock-in. Open source will have challenges too: for example, there has to be someone who says NO and members compete with each other.” Also, “OpenStack and Eucalyptus is where Nimble (Eucalyptus) meets massive (OpenStack). Eucalyptus is a tiny group. It is also Hybrid with AWS design patterns in the open. In public cloud, AWS API is private. In private cloud, AWS API is public. It is critical in cloud for the core pieces to remain hardened. OpenStack can and will have components, add-ons, adjuncts and alternative projects (Ceph, RiakCS, Midonet) and the aim of Eucalyptus is to become one.”

Next is a lightning talk by Ken Ross | Director of Product Management, Brocade

Ross says Brocade has been involved with OpenStack for 3 years and has increased its level of investment. Brocade’s contributions include SAN FibreChannel for Cinder, Multitenant DC-DC via MPLS, and NFV ETSI POCs inc. scheduling, FWaaS, and VPNaaS. 80% of NFV discussions are centered around OpenStack. Challenges: Neutron maturity – it has evolving functionality in cusotmer engagements (big spectrum of customer asks across releases, Folsom, Grizzly, Havana, and Icehouse, which makes it extremely difficult to be agile in development). Another challenge is for the SDN community and Open Daylight community to understand each other better.

This is followed by a keynote on The Software Defined Economy by Jonathan Bryce Executive Director, OpenStack Foundation

No matter what size your organization is, it’s not moving fast enough. Software innovation is make-or-break. If infrastructure isn’t part of the solution, it’s part of the problem.

Bryce says “Every company is competing with a startup. E.g. in banking you have to go against Stripe, Swuare, PayPal, etc. In Big Media, you have Netflix (won an Emmy), Zynga. In Automotive, Tesla, Uber, Lyft, SpaceX (which forces the US Airforce to compete with a startup). This is the Software Defined Economy. It is the ability to change easily, quickly from one vendor to another. The Old model was passive consumption – we bought what our vendors sold us and upgraded when they told us to upgrade; it was ok to use multi-year product cycles). The New Model is: I want what I want now (for example, mix and match in a single DC, release early and release often, deploy directly to production. Be agile, BYOD). Technology decisions are moving out to the edges of the business. Cloud is being driven from the edges of the business. It removes barriers and allows innovation. Quote from Disney: “In an IT department, you have to think like a Product company.” Top 10 car company used OpenStack to harness Big Data from dealer reports, insurance filings, car sensors, and generate reports to supply to various departments (R&D, Sales, Marketing)

Time for the keynote from Martin Casado | CTO of Networking, VMware on Policy for the Cloud Frontier. He comes to the stage with extreme energy, as if he just sprinted 100 meters.

Casado: Automation is great. Everyone loves the promise of all cloud operations codified as running programs tirelessly doing the work of dozens of operators. Unfortunately, today we can only automate infrastructure and applications——ideals for cloud behavior that are more concerned with business logic, regulations, security, risk management, and cost optimization than infrastructure and applications. As a result, the policy layer presents a new challenge in our quest for cloud automation. In this talk, I will discuss the policy problem and why it is an emerging area we should focus on. I will then discuss Congress, an OpenStack effort to create an open policy framework to help us as a community step into this new frontier.


Casado: “Automation does not remove the human. Automation is necessary but insufficient for removing humans from the cloud control loop. Humans still need to interact with cloud to make it obey business policies. Policy is the Holy Grail of IT. The Policy problem is as follows: Humans have ideas, humans can document ideas, systems don’t understand human languages. Non-technical people with non-technical ideas want to dictate how the system works. Somehow we’re supposed to get this to work on the backend. How OpenStack can crack the problem is as follow: Computer Scientists will want to write a declarative language, which will need a compiler to implement this in the System. But such policy systems have always existed and have their flaws. Traditional barriers are 1. Device Canonicalization (lowest common denominators are Cisco, Juniper, Brocade, Arista, etc) that fail because of the interoperability, 2. Distributed State Management (e.g. at 5 am person XYZ is probably not in a proper state of mind, so don’t give him access), and 3. Topology Independence (if you choose a language that is independent of toplogy, you require mapping from physical topology to logical, which is very difficult). Many of these problems have been solved by OpenStack because of abstractions (no more device canonicalization problem). Software abstraction has been canonicalized. Primary value of A CMS is to present a consistent view, manipulate. Policy compiler can now exist over this with this level of abstraction present.

He then defines Congress: An open policy framework for automated IT infrastructure. Every component (networking, storage, security, compute) has a policy layer. But they can only be used for that one component. High level framework has to unify them. it is an enormous hurdle to adoption to translate them. E.g. Application Developer, Cloud Operator, and Compliance Officer have separate ideas, but should be limited by the laws of 1 language. That’s what Congress aims to achieve. This is how it is the Holy Grail.

Randy Bias | CEO and Founder, Cloudscaling then spoke on The lie of the Benevolent Dictator; the truth of a working democratic meritocracy

Bias spoke of the groups with longer term vision (strategic business direction) and tactical teams with shorter term focus (release dev lifecycle). OpenStack doesn’t have a vision or product strategy. There are so many new projects coming up that it changes the meaning of OpenStack. But there is no shared vision or ownership at the top. By product strategy for open source projects, we need product leadership, not a benevolent dictator. Some requirements include: managing it like a product (even though it isn’t one); focus on end-user needs and requirements; have long term vision and long term prioritization & planning; have corporate independence; closer workings b/w Board and TC; and architectural oversight and leadership. He respects AWS in the sense that it has a small architectural review board, a product management function (team of PMs per product line). Suggests having something similar: (Architecture Review Board elected for 2-4 years, having a wide set of domain expertise; and PM function with specific domain expertise.

This was followed by a Lightning talk by Chris Kemp | Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, Nebula

Kemp said that the interoperability b/w products and services is what will make OpenStack successful in the long run. The goal should be to have zero consultants, zero additional headcount. Movie studios using biotech companies, space agencies, using Nebula solution.

The final keynote was by Adrian Ionel | CEO, Mirantis on OpenStack 2016: Boom or Bust?

Ionel spoke of the growth adoption of OpenStack. He said that the measure of success is actual workloads. AWS is $6B business. Collectively OpenStack doesn’t even scratch the surface of that number. Docker has had 20M downloads over the past 4 months. In the end, Developers win. They are the vanguards. They don’t care about deployment choice of monitoring software, which hypervisor is used underneath, what the scalability of the network layer is, or which storage system is used for volumes. What they do care about is API quality and ease of use, feature velocity, and portability. He suggests focusing on the APIs as the key to adoption, investing in ease of use vs even more flexible plumbing, not moving up the stack (e.g. XaaS) but rather partnering instead, reshaping upstream engineering (i.e. technical committees) to foster open competition (vs central plumbing), and enabling workload mobility to other platforms. Mirantis signs 2 new customers a week, however, it is early days yet. And OpenStack needs to be able to scale appropriately.

Three fireside chats followed. The first was Is open source cloud a winner-take-all game?

  • Gary Chen (Moderator) | Research Manager, IDC
  • Marten Mickos | CEO, Eucalytpus
  • Steve Wilson | VP & Product Unit Manager Cloud Platforms, Citrix Cloudstack
  • Boris Renski | Mirantis

Mickos: In a digital world with exponential development, you do see Winner-Take-All examples, e.g. Linux and mySQL. But exceptions exist. He quoted Linux Torvalds as “If Linux kills Microsoft, it will be an unintended consequence”. Customers just want value. Not many companies have the depth and breadth of skill that HP has. They believe in hybrid clouds; that’s why it stands out.

Wilson: Innovation isn’t a zero-sum game. There are different solutions for different people. If you declare victory at this point, you’re living in a bubble. You’re ignoring AWS, VMware. It is heterogeneous by definition. CloudStack is the most active solution in the Apache community. It doesn’t make sense to have a winner-take-all game. I don’t think OpenStack and CloudStack compete with each other. CloudStack is very easy to use and works at scale. Thousands of CloudStack deployments exist around the world. The Netscaler and Citrix team already contributes to the OpenStack world. Xen contributes to hypervisor component of OpenStack. We will work with whatever cloud infrastructure our customers use.

Renski: There is an opportunity for only 1 standard open source cloud. There is only space for 1 winner. Enterprises and technology-centric organizations invest a lot in their infrastructure and OpenStack is the only way to solve their problems. The sheer number of vendors who have come together to solve problems with minimal disruptions to the tenants is the core advantage of OpenStack.

The next Fireside chat, titled, If OpenStack is so awesome, why doesn’t every enterprise run on it?, featured:

  • Chris Kemp | Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, Nebula
  • Peter ffoulkes | Research Director, Servers and Virtualization and Cloud Computing
  • Jo Maitland | Analyst for Google Cloud Platform
  • Alessandro Perilli | VP & GM, Open Hybrid Cloud, Red Hat

Ffoulkes Enterprises are moving slowly and don’t like lock-in. OpenStack is moving fast. There will be mergers and acquisitions. Customers’ have difference challenges, e.g in one country deployment can be on-premises, in another must be off-premises. There’s a high cost and complex for enterprises to build DCs of their own or have private clouds. It is going to be a slow journey for customers in non-IT verticals to migrate to public clouds.

Maitland OpenStack hasn’t lived up to process of workload portability, but containers will help as they are super efficient and fast. The response to Docker is encouraging. As soon as there is a single semantic deployment model for OpenStack, the floodgates will open on the enterprise on-premises side. But it is a gradual migration.

Perilli There is a massive gap b/w expectations and reality. Customers ask if OpenStack is a cheap version of a virtualization layer that they can get from other vendors? That is a misperception. Vendors are not preaching OpenStack properly; they are confusing and scaring customers by saying this is the new world. They need to transition from scale-up model to scale out model. You need to have something on top that glues the scale-out with the scale-up. Enterprises generally take a long time to make such decisions. In order to increase adoption, what’s missing from OpenStack is the capability to think beyond what OpenStack can offer. It needs to be coupled with other layers that can be merged with OpenStack in a seamless way to enforce policies that large enterprises need. We’re still looking at the foundation.

The Final Fireside chat of the morning session, titled Open Source Business Models: Open Core, Open Everything or…, featured:

  • Jonathan Bryce (Moderator) | Executive Director, OpenStack Foundation
  • Jonathan Donaldson | General Manager, Software Defined Infrastructure, Intel
  • Brian Gentile | VP & GM, Tibco Jaspersoft
  • Nati Shalom | CTO & Founder, Gigaspaces

Shalom: There are different reasons why open source projects succeed and fail. e.g. mySQL succeeded because it entered a proprietary space with a cheap solution that delivered Alternatives were expensive. Also, Docker went from disruption to commodity in 6 months or less. They entered a very small space that few people were addressing, and was timely. For OpenStack, RackSpace realized that they couldn’t compete very long with AWS. They built a coalition with OpenStack. You go into coalitions because there is no other option. Open Source changes the dynamics in that things that are commodities should be free, and those that add value should be paid for. With Android, Google created the gravity that allows allows open source developers to contribute. It is not healthy for companies to argue for equal rights.

Gentile: Open Source needs to attain an unmet need. The development of distribution methodologies of open source is superior than proprietary ways. If all the physicists of the world held tight to their discoveries and work, where would we be?

Donaldson: Mass adoption from a community perspective must comes with acceleration. Enterprise customers often like licensed model, which might work. Somebody has to pay the bills though.

This concluded the morning session. I will cover the afternoon session in Part 2.


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