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Make the bed, enterprise OpenStack deployment is moving in

A typical OpenStack deployment is still for 'net new' workloads outside of the world's largest enterprises, but some big names have started to show off their use of OpenStack.

OpenStack has gone from sleeping on the spare couch in the basement to having its own bedroom in many major enterprises.

Sixty-five percent of OpenStack users currently run it in production, up from 33% just six months ago, according to the latest OpenStack User Survey. Half of Fortune 100 companies are using it in some way, too.

The growth of OpenStack took center stage -- literally -- at this week's OpenStack Summit, where companies, such as SAP and AT&T, showed off projects to transition to OpenStack with existing workloads.

"Not a lot of folks are targeting existing workloads -- most of the time, it is net new," said Lauren Nelson, a senior analyst with Forrester Research.

SAP is converging 23 different cloud infrastructures -- each the result of various acquisitions -- to OpenStack, according to Nayaki Nayyar, global head of IoT for SAP.

The company has also developed an Internet of Things (IoT) platform, called MindSphere -- Siemens Cloud for Industry, for Siemens AG using SAP HANA. OpenStack is a foundation of the infrastructure as a service layer for the "IoT scenario," managing virtual machines, storage and networking, and abstracting it from the underlying hardware, Nayyar said.

SAP also has other instances where it uses the HANA cloud platform on top of Cloud Foundry and OpenStack.

SAP uses Cloud Foundry to manage microservices that are part of the platform, including management of intelligence at the edge, dynamic tiering and end-to-end device management.

Another big attraction to OpenStack for end users is the community created by the OpenStack Foundation, since many peer resource groups can be expensive, Nelson said.

"You are essentially paying to become a member of a group that has similar priorities as you," she said, whereas the same benefits of learning from others are available for free with OpenStack.

While the free community of peers is the No. 1 benefit for end users, the lack of vendor lock-in was also cited by SAP's Nayyar.

The evolving nature of open source

The increased adoption of OpenStack is part of a changing perspective of open source in general, where more enterprises view it as a way to get faster top-level development, rather than relying on the roadmap of one proprietary entity, according to Nelson.

"There's been a big shift from a bunch of developers getting in a room and  dreaming of the future to something that has become a lot more real, and adopted by commercial vendors and looked at seriously by a lot of large enterprises," she said.

The next step in OpenStack adoption is likely companies that are not interested in putting whole development teams in place to put the upstream code into production. Instead, the next round of adoption will likely involve a deployment from a vendor -- companies such as Canonical, Red Hat or Mirantis -- to do it hands-off, so it feels like rolling out Linux.

For AT&T, the goals were to thoughtfully approach end-to-end architecture with innovation to match its architecture principles, such as distributed, while centrally managing cloud zones and automation for critical functions.

Solving [some OpenStack challenges] has proven to be a successful formula for making OpenStack truly operational in a large ecosystem like ours. We think replicating this formula can make OpenStack the de facto standard for private clouds of any size.
Sorabh Saxenasenior vice president for software development and engineering, AT&T

"Solving across all of these dimensions has proven to be a successful formula for making OpenStack truly operational in a large ecosystem like ours," said Sorabh Saxena, senior vice president for software development and engineering at AT&T. "We think replicating this formula can make OpenStack the de facto standard for private clouds of any size."

The company also issued a call to action for all Foundation members to collaborate across all projects to solve for large-scale operator and service provider needs. That will allow OpenStack to meet the common goal of making it the standard for all private clouds, Saxena said.

Saxena touted AT&T's success with automation, explaining that before an automated deployment, it took 10 months to deploy 20 OpenStack zones. But with automation, the company deployed 54 cloud zones in less than two months.

The latest message about OpenStack may be construed as boring -- but "if it is enterprise-ready, a level of boringness is not a bad thing, because it means it is stabilizing," said Gina Longoria, analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy in Austin, Texas.

If it is enterprise-ready, a level of boringness is not a bad thing, because it means it is stabilizing.
Gina Longoriaanalyst, Moor Insights & Strategy

A constant stream of new release announcements can sometimes make enterprises uneasy about OpenStack's stability, and it is a good idea to pause and show examples of stability to gain adoption.

The OpenStack Foundation also announced this week a new Certified OpenStack Administrator program, which offers professional certification from the Foundation to help companies identify top talent and give users a way to demonstrate their skills.

While there are existing vendor-training options from companies, such as Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Mirantis, Aptira, Red Hat, EasyStack, PlumGrid and others, the Foundation's certification will give enterprises more confidence that an OpenStack deployment will be successful, Longoria said.

"Everyone can say they have OpenStack experience, but it is brand new; how can you gauge that and measure that?" she said. "This will be a way to measure whether they have the right expertise in place."

Robert Gates covers data centers, data center strategies, server technologies, converged and hyper-converged infrastructure and open source operating systems for SearchDataCenter. Follow him on Twitter @RBGatesTT or email him at [email protected].

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