Community takes a holistic view of OpenStack – but in which direction?

As OpenStack matures and begins to see serious adoption in real world production environments, we see the community beginning to take a more practical look at where it fits into the technology ecosystem. Is it about cloud native, or virtualization? And does it matter?

For example, The recently-released OpenStack User Survey showed that developers’ preferred Platform as a Service is Cloud Foundry, and that Kubernetes is more popular than Red Hat’s OpenShift, showing a more technology-agnostic view. In other words, developers want tools that are going to work for them; if those tools come from outside the community, that’s just fine.

It’s an attitude that is also reflected in the fact that a large percentage of respondents (83%) said that they were also interested in containers, a technology which was first thought to be competing with OpenStack but has now been subsumed into the infrastructure by projects such as Magnum, Kolla, and Murano.

This last point is important to note: while the community recognizes the utility and usefulness of containers, it’s working to make sure that they can be used within OpenStack — in other words, the community wants OpenStack to be their ultimate container platform, no matter what underlying technology (Kubernetes, Docker Swarm, Mesos) is used to orchestrate them.

Another interesting thread to be drawn from this survey is the fact that so many users are interested in containers, PaaS, and even Internet of Things (33%), that it’s clear the community is moving in the direction of cloud native architectures. Why is this important? It’s important because one of the debates that erupted over the course of the summit was whether OpenStack should pursue a cloud native architecture, or continue to move int the direction of being “free VMware”.

In that debate, Platform9’s Ken Hui noted, “Users are already saying, ‘Let’s just bypass OpenStack and go straight to containers.’ If we don’t pick a direction, we run the risk of being a marginal player, not doing either traditional virtualization or cloud native very well.”

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