OpenStack Summit, Day One: It’s all about disruption

Nick Chase - April 26, 2016 -

Like most OpenStack Summits, the Austin event opened today with a host of big-name keynote speakers. Unlike previous years, however, the talk was much less about the technology, and more about the world it inhabits and the people who affect it — and are affected by it.

First up was Donna Scott of Gartner Group, who gave what may be one of the better explanations of Bimodal IT.  In this model, Mode 1 are applications that are mission critical and therefore must be predictable and reliable, with little change and lots of governance. Mode 2, on the other hand, are your more innovative applications, which change frequently and don’t necessarily need to be so reliable because you’re not running your business on them.  

Typically, Mode 1 applications are your traditional applications, and Mode 2 are those that are on the cloud, but her point was that as Mode 2 applications typically need to communicate with Mode 1 applications, and also, as Mode 2 apps get greater adoption, they themselves need greater predictability and reliability, moving into Mode 1.  At any rate, it’s a model that calls for greater use of Mode 2 strategies for more than just Agile IT.

Next, Jonathan Bryce of the OpenStack Foundation talked about how OpenStack was at the center of the disruption of IT. It’s terrifying, he said, but it can also be a huge opportunity.  The important thing is for all of these technologies, and all of these priorities to work together, and that’s where OpenStack and its ability to handle diversity comes in.  He talked about the three keys to handling diversity:

  1. Embrace different technologies;
  2. Understand that new apps still need old apps to be useful;
  3. Culture is still more important than technology (This has been a big theme today, and we’ll be talking more about it in another post).

Mirantis’ Boris Renski also talked about disruption, but from a slightly different angle. He discussed the fact that in a survey Gartner did last year, 95% of private cloud implementations had problems — but only a tiny fraction of those problems had anything to do with the technology.  The rest were all about either people or processes.  To effectively use OpenStack, you must change the culture.

Next Sorabh Saxena, SVP, Software Development and Engineering of AT&T — which won this year’s SuperUser award — discussed the ways in which the company is using OpenStack to completely virtualize all of its services.  AT&T has had 150,000% bandwidth usage growth in the last few years (yes, you read that right!) and without OpenStack it would have been impossible for them to keep up with it.  AT&T has stood up 74 data centers in just a few months, and their goal is to virtualize and cloud enable 75% of their entire network architecture using the software centric approach by 2020.  

Nayaki Nayyar, the General Manager and Global Head of IoT and Innovation GTM at SAP, talked about how the company runs IoT on top of OpenStack, and how their customers care about outcomes, rather than technology. She gave the example of a company that sells compressed air canisters that has changed its business model so that really, what they’re selling is compressed air. A tire company is selling Mileage as a Service. UnderArmor is selling fitness, rather than fitness equipment.  The company has 23 different cloud architectures inherited from acquisitions, and is in the process of standardizing on OpenStack. More than that, however, the company’s customers are using OpenStack for their IoT projects (through SAP HANA), and Nayyar gave the example of a company that uses the OpenStack-based application to keep track of thousands of sensors in an automated factory.

Chris Wright, Chief Technologist at Red Hat, discussed OpenStack’s move to production, as companies finally start using it to solve real, business-critical problems.  He also brought out Chris Simons from Verizon to explain how the company is retooling their entire infrastructure on OpenStack.

The last keynote was Mario Müller from Volkswagen group, who discussed how VW is using OpenStack to fundamentally change how the automotive behemoth does business. In addition to streamlining workflow and reducing costs, the company will be using OpenStack in its plan to build not just connected cars, but autonomous, self-driving cars that can get you where you want to go without human intervention. You can read more about it here.

Tomorrow, the keynotes will be more focused on the growing use of OpenStack in public clouds. If you’re in Austin, be sure to visit us in booth A41 in the OpenStack Marketplace.

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