Bart on OpenStack: The Train has Left the Station
by Bart Copeland

Bart Copeland, April 23, 2013

I travelled to Portland last week for the OpenStack Summit, a four-day conference that brought together over 3,000 developers, users, and administrators of OpenStack Cloud Software.

To start, we can all learn a lot from Portland’s mass transit! The MAX light rail system got me from the airport to the Oregon Convention Center in the heart of downtown Portland’s Rose Quarter/Lloyd District in less than 30 minutes.

Sticking with this train of thought, I was even more impressed by the momentum of the OpenStack community. I recall a small-scale open-source project that started just a few years ago. But now I can really say that the train has left the station. At the conference, I witnessed the incredible energy of this community, and I was blown away by the high quality of the talks I heard. Here are my highlights.

Talks and Keynotes

Lew Tucker, VP/CTO of Cloud Computing at Cisco, talked about OpenStack, SDN, and the future of Infrastructure as a Service at Cisco. Tucker can manage anything, and he clearly demonstrated his skill at the conference. Experiencing technical problems with the projector, he gracefully delivered his entire presentation without any slides. (Grace under pressure.)

Campbell McNeill, Dell’s lead cloud architect, gave an intriguing talk on how Dell is building both a public and private cloud solution using OpenStack. Cloud Foundry’s Ferran Rodenas and Dekel Tankel discussed the synergy between PaaS, Cloud Foundry, and OpenStack. Given that Stackato is based on Cloud Foundry, it was wonderful to witness the tremendous interest the Cloud Foundry open-source ecosystem generated at the Summit.

Overall, I noticed a greater PaaS awareness, as well as a sustained focus on security. It was fascinating to learn about NSA and CERN using OpenStack in production, which clearly demonstrated that these organizations have worked out a proven security model for OpenStack.

It was also great to learn about some of the new features of OpenStack, such as Reddwarf, a Database as a Service for Openstack.

The keynote presentations were outstanding, and I was pleased to see the nice balance between vendors and companies using OpenStack in production. I wish I could have attended more keynotes, but I was very busy with pre-planned meetings as well as networking throughout the event, and I enjoyed seeing new faces and reconnecting with familiar contacts.

Seen at the HP Booth

Jamie Paton, one of our Activators, was at the HP booth, showing off the HP Cloud aPaaS powered by Stackato. He learned that even though OpenStack is all about Infrastructure as a Service, many companies are still pushing innovation on the hardware front, with easier rackability, less configuration, and low power solutions such as the ARM-based moonshot, featured by HP at the booth. Jamie had never seen a micro-server that small before.

He was also surprised to see the wide adoption of Hadoop, an open-source software that allows for the distributed processing of large data sets across clusters of computers. A year ago, nobody had heard of this initiative, and now many people are using the software. 

The OpenStack High-Speed Train

The OpenStack Summit is famous for its great parties, and this year again, the event lived up to its reputation. The HP party was first class, and Cloudscaling hosted a nice, intimate wine and cheese get-together, which offered opportunities to meet new people. By the end of the Summit, we were no longer strangers on the OpenStack high-speed train. By the way, I like to travel light, and I hope that for next year’s Summit, the organizers will consider providing bag check to participants.

It was an exciting time to be at the OpenStack summit this year as it became clear to me that while OpenStack is very much focused on being an open-source project for Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service and Infrastructure as a Service will be merging sooner rather than later, and a complete stack solution will be critical to support these new developments. It is not just about Infrastructure as a Service. Rather, it is about building a complete cloud stack truly managed and operated cost-effectively.

It was a great event, and I look forward to next year.

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Bart Copeland is our CEO and president. He's passionate about ensuring that everyone at ActiveState has a lot of fun while solving complex problems with applications that provide real benefit to our customers. He holds an MBA in Technology Management from the University of Phoenix and a Mechanical Engineering degree from the University of British Columbia.