As more and more organisations start to take their first steps into the Cloud, pilot schemes and ‘proof of concept’ projects lead to buy in from senior management, and strategic decisions to increase Cloud investment. Set aside your ’cloud native’ start-ups and we’re now getting to the stage where established organisations are getting up to a brisk pace with the Cloud and leading to a DevOps way of working, enabling faster iterations and updates, and an ability to trial new products and services with less risk.

This has resulted in increased demands on control and availability of Cloud services that need to be more stringent, putting power and agility back into the hands of an organisation’s IT teams.

The issue with emerging technology is that skills are scarce.Click To Tweet

Public Cloud technologies like AWS, Azure or the Google Cloud Platform provide a lot of possibilities, but they leave a gap which OpenStack is aiming to bridge in the Private Cloud arena. Despite the recent decline in the adoption of Private Cloud operating systems stated in the 2017 ‘State of the Cloud’ study by Rightscale. Openstack is an anomaly amongst its Private Cloud peers, and is steadily rising according to the same study.

But what is OpenStack?

OpenStack is an open source platform for developing, building and deploying private cloud IaaS platforms. It’s powerful and can be administered through command line, RESTful web services and API’s as well as web-based dashboard controls. You can use these to allocate processing power and storage and associate network resources using your own datacentre kit.

How did OpenStack emerge?

OpenStack has its roots in a joint effort between Rackspace and NASA, but has evolved with the help of over 500 companies and organisations across the world. RedHata big player in both the open source and enterprise markets recognised the inter dependencies of Linux Servers and an OpenStack environment and has collaborated with OpenStack to ensure there are closely aligned product teams and support resources with a focus on infrastructure, security and patching. Similarly, the cloud virtualisation giant VMware recognised a need to deploy VMware based instances to an OpenStack environment and through VMware Integrated OpenStack (VIO) it aims to simplify that process. This is something that Bank of Ireland is starting to ramp up their usage of with the long-term goal of moving towards VIO as its primary Cloud platform.

Perhaps the largest and most high profile case study is Oracle who took the plunge to provide a full OpenStack cloud environment for all of their development and test teams to use. Listening to their developers and in an attempt to request and deploy environments, call API’s and build container platforms. They chose OpenStack as a way of providing environments to their developers almost instantly whilst still maintaining control and enforcing usage policies, permissions and security. Although initially tough to gain buy in and trust and with an end game to shut down ‘shadow IT’ side projects they managed to build a strongly resilient environment and grew adoption throughout internal teams through a mix of positive PR spread by word of mouth across business units. This has led to rave reviews internally and decreased the time to market for iterations of most of their new features as well as decreasing public cloud spend for development.

Why is OpenStack successful?

Its biggest asset is the way it embraces the rapid development of new features, much like AWS but by promoting a ‘DIY approach’ to Cloud. These new features are being driven by a fast-paced community solving their own challenges and making that knowledge, experience and lessons learned available to the wider community – the ethos of open source.

So why isn’t everyone committing to OpenStack?

The issue with emerging technology is that skills are scarce. In the UK & Ireland there are only a few reference sites and those who are skilled and experienced with OpenStack are only just starting to emerge. It’s largely being driven by a handful of solution providers and systems integrators who are working in conjunction with talented development and infrastructure teams to help them take their first steps. Contractors (with correspondingly high rates) are starting to spread the seeds of some of their OpenStack experience into new organisations, but it’s lacking the wealth of positive PR that Amazon and Microsoft are enjoying with Azure and AWS.

How does OpenStack impact the employment market?

Recruitment is difficult. Finding professionals for permanent positions is rare and consequently driving a ‘grow your own’ type approach with training going in and research time given to existing Cloud specialists or a mix of developers and systems administrators on the job. Although training to enhance OpenStack skills is starting to catch up through resources such as openstack.org and a strong community willing to collaborate and share their experience, a large emphasis is still being placed on Cloud leaders and innovators supporting and encouraging their teams to grow organically.