Debbie McGee’s performances on Strictly Come Dancing this year have been nothing short of magical. Until, of course, Saturday night’s show where she and her professional partner, Giovanni Pernice, scored a meagre (by their standards) 33 and found themselves in the bottom two dance-off. Debbie’s late husband, Paul Daniels, probably would have liked the performance. But not a lot.

All the dancers on the show – both professional and celebrity – talk about the magic of dancing at the Tower Ballroom in Blackpool, the spiritual home of Ballroom Dancing. Each year on the Blackpool Special week it’s almost as if the trip up north is a pilgrimage for believers in the Magic of Ballroom.

So for Debbie’s magic touch to desert her on such an important week was such a huge shock and surprise. It’s almost enough to make you even question if magic is even real.

Some true believers in magic, however, are the guys and gals over at Canonical, the company behind the popular Ubuntu Linux distro. They have developed Conjure-Up – a command line tool written in Python that lets you summon up big-software with a so-called “spell”. Conjure-Up is an installer for complex topologies of interconnected software, like Openstack and Kubernetes or Hadoop: the “spells” are a list of instructions of which applications to deploy and how to deploy them.

As their tagline says, “start using your big software instead of learning how to deploy it.”

Wise words indeed. There is no point in having software if you can’t use it! And why spend so much time and effort configuring it when you can cast a spell and have it done for you?

OpenStack has been hailed in some quarters as the future of cloud computing.

Although there are a number of spells in Conjure-Up’s GitHub repository, focusing on one of the main spells – a spell to handle the deployment of OpenStack – is especially interesting as OpenStack has been hailed in some quarters as the future of cloud computing. It is an open-source platform for cloud computing that allows virtual servers and other computing resources to be managed and served. Part of its appeal is that it is available licence-free and so has a competitive advantage over other proprietary solutions, such as VMware.

OpenStack was first released in 2010 as a joint venture between Rackspace and NASA. The OpenStack Foundation was created a couple of years later and now has more than 500 companies participating in the project – including some of the biggest companies in hardware, software, and hosting, for instance, IBM, Intel and Dell EMC.

Casting the OpenStack spell on conjure-up allows you to quickly and easily build a modern, scalable and repeatable cloud infrastructure.

Going back in time slightly, a couple of years ago research regarding OpenStack commissioned by Suse Linux (results published in January 2016) found that half of all enterprises that tried to implement OpenStack failed. Furthermore, they found that 65% of companies said that the implementation experience was difficult.

Until now OpenStack revenue has been mainly from service providers offering multi-tenant Infrastructure-as-a-Service. But recent research has found that growth in OpenStack is now moving towards private cloud quicker than previously anticipated. In fact, it is now predicted that revenue for OpenStack from private cloud will surpass revenue from service providers using public cloud in 2018.

Returning for a brief moment to the Suse research, even back in 2016 it was discovered that 44% of companies planned to download and install OpenStack themselves.

Bringing together the fact that OpenStack in Private Cloud is growing quicker than thought and that it’s likely that a significant percentage of companies will attempt to implement OpenStack themselves, it’s not difficult to see why conjure-up is going to be important as 2017 winds down and we enter into the new year.

As Arthur C. Clarke’s famous third law states, “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Of course, conjure-up isn’t really magic. When it comes down to the nitty-gritty of it, conjure-up is merely a simple command-line installer tool. But it does take away a lot of the pain of deploying big software and if OpenStack really is going to be the future of Cloud Computing, having a tool that lets you get started using your software by reducing the time and effort required to get it set up really is the equivalent of having a magic wand in your armoury.

And if moving into 2018, you are one of the companies that are going to take OpenStack’s private cloud numbers ahead of its public cloud numbers by building and managing private cloud infrastructure you’ll certainly enjoy Conjure Up.

As Debbie McGee’s late husband Paul Daniels (probably) never said, “You’ll like it. A lot.”

Now that’s magic.


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