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OpenStack at 5: The year in review

Nick Chase - July 22, 2015

Another summer, another OpenStack birthday.  Goodness, they grow up so fast! Just think: a year ago, we were still talking about whether the industry could support all of the various vendors, whether containers (and some little company called Docker) could become an existential threat to OpenStack, and most of all, whether OpenStack was (or ever would be) stable enough for production applications. Now, just one year and two releases later, the landscape of OpenStack vendors has significantly changed, OpenStack and containers are like two peas in a pod with the support of Google, and Walmart is running its Cyber Tuesday traffic on OpenStack. Let's take a look back at the big stories that OpenStack:Now has covered in the last 12 months.

July 2014

Just after OpenStack's fourth birthday, the space got a new distribution: Oracle joined the fray, adding "a bagload of better-integrated-than-ever virtualization features, plus an integrated distro of OpenStack Havana: everything you need, software-wise, to stand up fully functional OpenStack clouds on SPARC- or x86-based systems" to Oracle Solaris 11.2.

Rackspace, which was still in the throes of the "will they be acquired" frenzy that had started several months earlier, announced that "the company has never been in the business of commodity public cloud; the trouble is that nobody else knew it. Now the company is taking steps to solve that problem, launching its new Managed Cloud initiative, with messaging (and pricing) that makes it clear that when they say Fanatical Support, they aren't kidding -- or letting up."

On the technology side, Swift 2.0, "an upgrade hailed as the most significant since the project was initially open sourced," was released, bringing Storage Policies, "a simplified way to dynamically requisition storage meeting application requirements for storage tier/medium type, speed, capacity, replication level -- even geographic area, to enable compliance with data sovereignty laws and regulations." Later in the year the community would add erasure coding to the list of new features.

Meanwhile, in a move that now seems like foreshadowing, "Eucalyptus CEO Marten Mickos, who led MySQL to a 9-figure exit, set forth the argument for why Eucalyptus is not an alternative to OpenStack, but a complement."

August, 2014

In August we started hearing more about a little company called Docker, which was making noise with its open source container platform. The company divested itself of its "failed" dotCloud PaaS, and started talking about a funding round that might bring it to a (seemingly huge) $400 million valuation.

Also on the investment front, we continued to follow the story of Rackspace as the acquisition talk ratcheted up to a fever pitch with the news that a "friendly" activist investor was raising its stake in the company from 2.4% to 6.5%.

The OpenStack landscape got a little more crowded, as the OpenStack Marketplace added Private Cloud as a Service (PCaaS) to its available options, and VMware, long thought to be the reason OpenStack existed in the first place, announced that it would be releasing its own distribution for VMware customers, VMware Integrated OpenStack.

Also in the news that summer, Red Hat released "CloudForms 3.1, the first to be based on the now open sourced ManageIQ Community release."

September, 2014

September was a watershed month, signaling all kinds of changes to come in the OpenStack landscape.

Mirantis and Canonical both entered the Private Cloud as a Service market, and Rackspace finally put all the acquisition talk to bed by announcing that it was not, in fact, for sale, and the inaugural OpenStack Silicon Valley conference was held in Mountain View, California, selling out and leading to a two day conference in 2015.  (As of this writing, tickets are still available.)

Meanwhile, OpenStack industry watchers needed a scorecard to keep track of everything going on.  First HP bought Eucalyptus, hiring Marten Mickos as their head of cloud computing. (The kumbaya would last just six months until he is replaced by those he replaced.) Then Citrix, which had seen the departure of much of its CloudStack leadership, announced it would be working more closely with OpenStack. (CloudStack is still alive.) Finally, Cisco bought Metacloud for an undisclosed sum. (The Metacloud crew wouldn't be lonely long.)

October, 2014

The big news in October centered around the new OpenStack release, and funding.  

On the funding front, champagne corks popped to celebrate Blue Box's announcement of another $10 million in funding (bringing total funding up to $17.6 million), but the revelry was quickly overshadowed as Mirantis announced a monster $100 million Series B round, said to be the largest in open source history.  EMC bought Cloudscaling (and broke up with Cisco).

OpenStack originator Joshua McKenty stunned the community by leaving Piston, which he'd co-founded, and going to Cloud Foundry, and HP announced that it would split into two companies; one would keep the printer business, and the other would focus on enterprise servers and software.

Technologically, OpenStack Juno was released, including "new features such as High Availability at the L3 networking layer, improvements to block support in the Nova API, and storage policies to control the type of storage device on a per-object basis."  Juno also included Network Function Virtualization, and the technology began to materialize more sharply, as the Open Platform for NFV Project (OPNFV) was founded.

October also saw two more distributions of OpenStack, as HP Helion OpenStack reached general availability, and Ubuntu 14.10 included OpenStack Juno.

November, 2014

The fall summit was held in Paris, and the community decided that since there were so many more casual users participating in the foundation, it would lower its voter percentage quota for making changes to the OpenStack bylaws. Intel became a platinum member of the OpenStack Foundation.

SwiftStack raised an additional $16 million.

December, 2014

The first rumblings of the container wars began to be felt, as Docker and CoreOS tousled over standards. CoreOS introduced a competing container effort, Rocket, amidst insider squabbling.  Meanwhile, Docker introduced an enterprise version of its Docker Hub product.

The Cloud Foundry Foundation was officially formed, as a way to allay concerns about openness in the Platform as a Service.

January, 2015

The OpenStack Foundation voted in its newest gold member, Symantec, based on participation in the OpenStack Security Group, OpenStack Identity Service (Keystone) and Image Service (Glance), and also contributed documentation in several areas.

At the same time Mirantis, introduced the ability to add functionality to Fuel with plugins in Mirantis OpenStack (MOS) 6.0, and added support for the latest OpenStack release, Juno, and VMware released its OpenStack distro, concentrating on hybrid clouds.

Blue Box closed its B round with an additional $4 million (for a total of $14 million) from a telco strategic investor, which fueled  speculation about whether there was an acquisition in the cards. The company denied it.

Rackspace, the company that is famous as one of the OpenStack’s “parents”,  let the last of its First Generation Server customers know that within 30 days, they’d be on OpenStack, one way or the other.

Results for the 2014 Ubuntu Server and Cloud Survey were released, indicating that the battle to win the “hearts and minds” of enterprise users may be just about over, with more than 60% of respondents saying that OpenStack was ready for production -- and a majority actually using it that way.

February, 2015

Blue Box extended it Private Cloud as a Service to on-premises deployments, and CloudScaling released a new version of the EC2 API, enabling Randy Bias to put (EMC's) money where is mouth was as far as his notion that OpenStack has to support Amazon Web Services APIs in order to stay relevant.

HP released purpose-built configurations, and released a version of HP Helion based on Eucalyptus even as it ousted the company's founder, Marten Mickos, just 6 months after bringing him on board.

Containers began to really enter the conversation, as Docker joined the orchestration ecosystem with the release of Docker Machine, but OpenStack was already moving on to integrating Kubernetes with OpenStack Murano, enabling OpenStack to manage Docker containers.

Meanwhile the mainstream narrative about OpenStack started to perceptibly shift, as signs that it may be emerging from the "trough of disillusionment" seemed to appear.

March, 2015

Naysayers often contend that OpenStack isn’t production ready. PayPal’s moves demonstrate otherwise. Paypal said on its blog that it has has converted “nearly 100 percent of our traffic serving web/API applications and mid-tier services at PayPal to run on our internal private cloud, based on OpenStack.”

Meanwhile, OpenStack’s technical underpinnings grew stronger with organization and development around network functions virtualization (NFV)

Move toward managed services: HP announced a turnkey rack based on OpenStack and Cloud Foundry, to allow organizations fast cloud deployment and easier management.

Red Hat explained its SDN storage options, clarifying when you should use Ceph vs. Gluster.

April, 2015

April Fools' Day started with a bit of shock, as the community discovered that the post explaining that OpenStack progenitor Nebula was closing down was not, in fact, a joke. In a move that would cause ripples for some time, the company explained that it had come to market with its OpenStack appliance too early, and couldn't wait for the market to mature. (It would fall to other companies to pick up the gauntlet later.)

In a move that spoke to OpenStack's adoption, enterprise container vendor Parallels told the OpenStack board of directors that it planned to
open source its product, and wanted to leverage OpenStack to help it penetrate the enterprise space. Parallels would later be voted a gold member of the Foundation.

Other moves seemed less clear; HP's Bill Hilf new (and previous) cloud chief inadvertently gave conflicting messaging while trying to explain that while the company was saying in the public cloud market, it was taking a stand similar to Rackspace, and not trying to compete directly with AWS on price. Meanwhile Piston expanded its CloudOS product, deploying not just OpenStack, but also other open source projects such as Hadoop and Kubernetes.

Two OpenStack pseudo-antagonists also announced news in April, as CloudStack sponsor Citrix joined the OpenStack Foundation, and VMware supplemented its product line with two container-related products.  Canonical also announced a new container initiative, LXD.

The Docker juggernaut continued, as the company raised $95 million it said it didn't need, and officially reached "unicorn" status, dwarfing the original $400 million estimate with a billion dollar valuation.

Meanwhile, OpenStack Kilo hit the streets. The release was focused on stability, but the OpenStack Foundation emphasised improvements in identity federation and bare metal provisioning. The Foundation also pushed enterprise adoption successes, launching a new enterprise site and showing off case studies from Walmart, BBVA, BMW, PayPal, and TRUSTe.

May, 2015

May and it was summit season again, as the community gathered in Vancouver. The big push was for interoperability as the community talked about its DefCore initiative to make sure that all OpenStack clouds would be compatible, and commitments were made to support federation, making it much easier and seamless to support moving workloads between OpenStack clouds.  The summit also saw the introduction of the OpenStack Community App Catalog, a database of applications that can be easily deployed and run on OpenStack through Murano.

Converged architectures got more attention. Mirantis announced the Mirantis Unlocked program, which would include partnerships and appliances, and EMC announced a new converged architecture program, including partnerships and reference architectures with Mirantis and Canonical.  Red Hat added GlusterFS to OpenStack Manila and combined all of its OpenStack options into the Red Hat Cloud Suite.

And then, in a 24 hour period, the OpenStack landscape contracted again, with IBM buying Blue Box and Cisco buying Piston, leaving Mirantis as the last of the major independents.

June, 2015

The container frenzy grew even louder this month. Mesosphere's release of its Datacenter Operating System (DCOS), which approaches datacenters as a single computer to make them more efficient, seemed to be the big news, but then came DockerCon and the announcement of the Open Container Project, which ended the container wars by getting Docker, CoreOS, Google, Mesosphere, and others together to define common standards. IBM also joined the container bandwagon.

China was also in the news, as Cisco announced investment in the country, and Alibaba announced a plan to expand into the US market, where it will compete with AWS.

July, 2015

Which brings us right back to July, and things are not slowing down for a moment.  Already this month, we're seeing the OpenDaylight networking initiative moving into the Internet of Things, and Rackspace is expanding its support for Microsoft Azure.

But the big story, as it has been all year, is containers, as Google joins the OpenStack Foundation as a corporate sponsor, intending to enhance support for containers and Kubernetes within OpenStack.

Year 6, here we come

So here we are, moving on to another year, and looking forward to what OpenStack will bring.  And to celebrate OpenStack's birthday, we're giving you presents!  We've put together a collection of free eBooks to help you get involved in OpenStack and make the most of it.

Please join us for another year of keeping you up to date with what's happening in the OpenStack industry every week, and for the OpenStack:Now podcast.

What do you think will happen in the next 12 months?  Let us know in the comments.

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