Immaturity holding back OpenStack deployments

But support from big companies means it's likely to muscle through

The cloud buzz this week is behind OpenStack, as the organization has its summit in Portland, Oregon. Twice as many people are in attendance than at the conference six months ago, said Jonathan Bryce, executive director of the OpenStack Foundation.

But people on the front lines are saying that while OpenStack has a lot of promise, it’s just not there yet and adoption is happening slowly because of its lack of maturity. While some summit attendees sounded frustrated with the amount of development that still needs to happen, they also said that with all the major companies now backing OpenStack – IBM, HP, Dell, Red Hat, Cisco, and others – it’s likely to succeed.

Jeff Dickey, senior vice president of cloud solutions for Redapt, said that OpenStack needs to mature. He helps businesses deploy clouds, internally or in a hybrid environment. For those that want to build a true multi-tenant cloud that can support multiple apps, he’s advising them to use CloudStack. His customers tend to be using OpenStack for test and dev or discreet apps because it’s just not ready for true mutli-tenant production deployments, he said.

Celsina Bignoli, senior software engineer at Juniper Networks, which just became a gold member of the OpenStack Foundation, agreed that there’s great momentum behind OpenStack but it’s not easy to deploy. The architecture is very nice and the way the pieces work together is elegant, which draws businesses to want to use it, she said. But deployment is challenging and users often have to build needed components themselves.

Businesses can choose to do their own OpenStack deployment or buy from one of the startups offering distributions. There are challenges with either option.

If an enterprise decides to build an internal OpenStack cloud and something goes wrong, there’s no one to call, she noted. At that point, it seems to make more sense to stick with VMware, the company that most enterprises already have a relationship with and where businesses know they’ll get support if they have problems, she said.

There are companies, like Piston or Cloudscaling, that offer OpenStack distributions or build private OpenStack clouds for businesses. But most are startups and enterprises are often shy of hiring startups for fear that they might go out of business or not have enough experience to handle true enterprise deployments.

Also, some businesses are gravitating to OpenStack because it’s open source and they think that means it’ll be less expensive to deploy, she noted. But like any other open source project, such as Linux, the software doesn’t end up being free, she said. Users may end up buying a distribution or hiring people to deploy and support the software.

Dickey agrees that there’s momentum behind OpenStack in part because people think it’s free. But the implementation adds up, he said.

Bloomberg was on stage detailing its large OpenStack deployment. It detailed the components it had to develop itself and decided to release the code behind those components to help others facing the same challenges.

When Bloomberg started analyzing OpenStack and how to use it, it found problems it had to solve on its own, a company executive who presented during Tuesday’s keynote said.

For instance, it had to figure out how to do highly available databases, what servers to use and how to use storage in a highly available fashion. It also had figure out how to “do housekeeping,” such as how to do log aggregation from the hypervisor level. It also had some orchestration issues to sort out including that it didn’t care how reliable individual instances were but wanted reliability at the service level. So it architected its cloud so that if an instance dies, the orchestration layer sees it and relaunches a new one.

To help other companies learn from its experience Bloomberg has released the code it used to solve these problems on Github that other companies can take advantage of its work.

The summit continues through Thursday.

Read more of Nancy Gohring's "To the Cloud" blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @ngohring. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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