The OpenStack Foundation acknowledges the changing landscape

Nick Chase - November 20, 2017 -

You may have noticed, based on a couple of recent articles from our co-founder, Boris Renski, that Mirantis has changed from being a company focused on building a cloud for you to being a company that helps you get things done in the cloud.  His first blog on the subject, “Infrastructure Software is Dead,” talked about how companies don’t want software, they want the outcomes the software is designed to produce, and the software itself is almost irrelevant.  Now he’s published a second blog, “Can Google Android AWS,” taking the concept a step further and proposing that part of Google’s plan in open sourcing and championing Kubernetes is to destroy cloud switching costs, making it easier for people to choose a cloud other than AWS.

And he’s got a point. Kubernetes isn’t the only tool Google’s been championing; the Istio service mesh project and the Spinnaker deployment tool come to mind.  The Cloud Native Computing Foundation gets proposals for new member projects constantly.

So what’s going on here?

In a word, the cloud itself is becoming commoditized; what’s important is how you use it.  We’ve been beating that drum here at Mirantis for a while now, first with our foundation of Infrastructure as Code, and now with our DriveTrain deployment tool and StackLight monitoring. People thought it was a little weird at first, especially when Mirantis, traditionally an “OpenStack company” added Kubernetes to our roster.

Don’t get the wrong idea; we still do OpenStack, and we’re darn good at it. But this notion of open infrastructure is definitely where things are going.

Witness some of this week’s announcements from the OpenStack Foundation. Speaking from Sydney, Australia at the Fall 2017 OpenStack Summit, executive director of the OpenStack Foundation Jonathan Bryce talked about the Foundation’s plans to focus more on integrations and use cases.

The foundation will be “investing significant financial and technical resources in a four-part strategy to address integration of OpenStack and relevant open source technologies: documenting cross-project use cases, collaborating across communities, including upstream contributions to other open source projects, fostering new projects at the OpenStack Foundation, and coordinating end-to-end testing across projects.”

Great, but what does that actually mean?

Documenting cross-project use cases

Now that OpenStack has finally got a firm footing in the enterprise, the foundation plans to focus on use cases, rather than the individual technologies necessary for enabling those use cases.  In general the plan is to move from the traditional to the emerging use cases, including:

  • Datacenter cloud infrastructure
  • CI/CD
  • Container infrastructure
  • Edge infrastructure

To enable all of these use cases, the foundation will be focusing on more than just OpenStack.

Collaborating across communities

While the OpenStack community has been producing actual software, one of the projects that uses it has a different model.  The OPNFV project doesn’t actually produce software; instead, it works with other communities to define an overall system of projects to accomplish goals, doing gap analysis and producing code within those other communities to close those gaps.

The OpenStack Foundation will be doing something similar going forward, working to make sure that open source projects work properly together in order to enable its target use cases.

“As open source leaders, we’ll fail our user base if we deliver innovation without integration, meaning the operational tools and knowledge to put it all into production,” said Bryce. “By working together across projects, we can invest in closing this gap and ensuring that infrastructure is not only open but also consumable by anyone in the world.”

Fostering new projects at the OpenStack Foundation

Perhaps most interesting, however, is that fact that the foundation isn’t planning to limit itself to contributing to other projects; it is also considering taking additional projects under its wing, similar to the way in which the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) provides support for the creation of specific technologies.

There’s one very interesting aspect of this goal, however: these projects will not necessarily follow the same governance model as OpenStack. And that makes sense; every community is different, so the foundation wants to make sure that each project owns its own progress.

Coordinating end-to-end testing across projects

Of course, it doesn’t matter what you put together if it can’t be used.  The OpenStack Foundation is also talking about OpenLab, “a community-led program to test and improve support for the most popular Software Development Kits (SDKs)—as well as platforms like Kubernetes, Terraform, Cloud Foundry and more—on OpenStack. The goal is to improve the usability, reliability and resiliency of tools and applications for hybrid and multi-cloud environments.”

Coming next

All of this comes as not just OpenStack, but the entire technology industry is trying to decide what it wants to be when it grows up. Technology is changing fast, leaving a huge gap between those who want to stay on the bleeding edge and those who want to use older, more tried-and-true (read: stable) software. In the coming months, we’ll see how the OpenStack Foundation bridges this gap in order to stay relevant as application developers increasingly move up the stack.

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