OpenStack Day One: SolidFire’s Take

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Yesterday marked the beginning of the OpenStack Summit in Atlanta, GA.  This event also marks my first dive into the OpenStack community. As a long-time VMware administrator and architect, the start of this show has been a deep immersion into both new technologies and a different culture.  In the spirit of sink or swim, I’ve paddled hard to absorb everything I could. Day one left me with three things that stood out above the myriad of new information. 

The first takeaway was from the Monday morning keynote discussion about the OpenStack Superuser and their role in OpenStack’s continued growth. These Superusers are people who have an impact in both their environments and the community through their use of OpenStack.  The Superuser testimonials gave all attendees, especially the new ones, a glimpse into the impact that OpenStack is having on their businesses. I believe Glenn Ferguson of Wells Fargo stated it most concisely when he outlined the strategic value of OpenStack as “… agility, speed, and allowing developers to modify the software in lock-step with the infrastructure.”  This summary served as a common thread reinforced by the calls to action to improve the ease of use and consumption of OpenStack to help it realize its full potential.  Looking at the agenda for the week, I’m confident the attendees will see continued focus on business value and how the growing number of Superusers continue to grow OpenStack. SolidFire CEO Dave Wright will also share his vision for the next generation datacenter during the Tuesday morning keynote. You can read more about the Superusers at http://superuser.openstack.org/

Secondly, I noted a great deal of conversation about operation and automation of the OpenStack components.  Automation is fundamental for scalability and it was interesting to see the various individual and corporate efforts being made to make OpenStack platforms more scalable and consumable.  OpenStack’s module-based framework makes it impressively easy for contributors to make a direct and significant impact.  The automation and management conversation was also very present at SolidFire’s booth, where engineers were available to discuss the SolidFire API.  OpenStack users not in attendance here in Atlanta can find more information at http://www.solidfire.com/solutions/cloud-orchestration/openstack/

The final takeaway was the overall sense of community at the Summit.  Being a relative outsider prior to the event, it was very exciting seeing sessions and talking with so many people who could speak directly to the contributions they’ve made to OpenStack. These Superusers are clearly passionate about what they are doing and I do not believe I saw a single presenter walk away from the stage without engagement with the audience. There is also a strong sense that the attendees are working together to make OpenStack better each day.  I believe Troy Toman of RackSpace stated it well during the morning keynote when he told the audience; “We have a lot of new users, but we still have a ways to go.”  I can’t speak to the number of users in the past, but this event has shown me that OpenStack has a broad and strong user base.  It’s clear from the overall vibe that everyone here feels like they are  more than just a consumer of OpenStack – they all feel like Superusers.  OpenStack Summit has succeeded in making the growing numbers feel empowered to improve the ecosystem, do it at scale and make their companies more competitive.  It was a great day one.  Stay tuned tomorrow for a recap of day two.

– Josh Atwell, Cloud Architect

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