​OpenStack: Costs less, does more

OpenStack continues to grow across businesses and grows ever stronger on the edge of the internet with its telecomm partners.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

The biannual OpenStack Summit opened with Jonathan Bryce, executive director of the OpenStack Foundation, saying "We're a inflection point ... We are moving into the second generation of the cloud." And OpenStack is leading the way.

What are these generations? The first generation was built on immature technologies that required expert architects, engineers, and developers. Only large technology companies, such as eBay and Yahoo, could implement them. In the second generation, the technology is easy enough for small teams to develop and manage it, and thus, smaller companies are realizing cost savings.

Specifically, OpenStack has seen a 44 percent year-over-year increase in the volume of OpenStack deployments. OpenStack now runs on over five million compute cores globally.

How has OpenStack managed this? "The bottom line is that when you compare OpenStack to nearly all other open-source projects, it has accelerated, scaled, and matured at a faster pace than any," said Mark Presti, head of strategic alliances for Brocade.

Another reason OpenStack has grown is it found homes outside the data center. It is becoming more and more an element in edge computing. For example, Bryce said "OpenStack went into a new set of arenas that the public cloud didn't handle. By adopting IPv6 addressing and Network Function Virtualization (NFV) early in its evolution, OpenStack became the go-to cloud for telecoms."

Bryce added, "AT&T alone is already supporting customers with OpenStack in nearly 100 data centers, alongside carriers like Verizon, China Mobile, and Deutsche Telekom. In terms of sheer footprint, OpenStack is the most widely distributed cloud infrastructure for virtualized networks, and the Vodafone deal is the most recent example."

Beth Cohen, a Verizon distinguished technical staff member, underlined this point in her keynote. Cohen credited OpenStack for enabling Verizon to make 4G LTE available to 98 percent of the US population and growing Verizon's internet scope to six continents.

"OpenStack," Cohen said, "is no longer just at the data center. Customers want security of network services and OpenStack provides us standardized management tools and open application interfaces (API)s, which enables us to quickly and easily build out virtual network services that can be placed in legacy environments." This saves Verizon, and its telecomm competitors, vast deployment and maintenance costs.

Companies also find that OpenStack private clouds can save them money over public ones. Snapdeal, an online retailer, for instance, saved 75 percent by moving to an OpenStack cloud. In part, that's because private clouds have evolved. Sure, for generic jobs, the big public Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) clouds like Amazon Web Services (AWS) can reduce IT spending, but if you want to customize a cloud and cut costs, OpenStack is a winner.

Today, besides the in-house private cloud, private-hosted private cloud model, there's the remotely managed private cloud, AKA or Private-Cloud-as-a-Service. These newer models make it easier to small businesses to invest in a cloud that meets their exact needs.

In his keynote, Mirantis co-founder Boris Renski, said "The term private cloud is a toxic word in the enterprise. The reason is because private cloud evolved to become a marketing term that unfortunately from time to time is associated with failure." But, if you zero in on what a private cloud can do for you with a "managed open cloud as a service that focuses on the right problems," OpenStack private clouds, with their many open-source, open API, elements are ideal for this.

For example, OpenStack users are adopting containers far faster than the rest of enterprise cloud users, according to 451 Research's count. By late 2016, 55 percent of OpenStack users were using containers, compared to only 17 percent of other cloud users.

To help its container growth, OpenStack users are also adopting Kubernetes for container manager at a rapid rate. Forty-five percent of OpenStack companies have deployed Kubernetes as an application tool. This is more than double the adoption of other tools such as OpenShift, which incorporates Kubernetes and Cloud Foundry. What this tell us is OpenStack adopters are saving money using containers far more so than other cloud users.

Put it all together and OpenStack can often cost less while doing more for businesses that need more than generalized, one-size fits all, public cloud services.

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