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OpenStack gathers momentum in Asia

The OpenStack open source cloud software appears to be gathering momentum in Asia, with the project's four-day summit currently taking place in Tokyo.

The OpenStack Foundation, the organisation created to promote the OpenStack source cloud software, staged a sell-out conference in Tokyo this week at which a number of Asian users revealed their use of OpenStack for massive cloud-based services.

Opening the event, Jonathan Bryce, executive director of the OpenStack Foundation, said: "We have 5000 people here from 56 countries. It is the largest event we have ever held outside of North America."

Attendance -- which was limited by the capacity of the venue -- far exceeded the foundation's last Asia summit, in Hong Kong in 2013, which drew 3,500 attendees, and matched numbers at the Paris summit a year ago.

Hironobu Saitoh, technical evangelist of GMO Internet Group, a global internet services provider based in Tokyo, told the summit that GMO had four OpenStack-based cloud/hosting products, running on over 1,400 compute nodes, available in four global geographies and used by over 15,000 customers.

Japan based smartphone game developer, Aiming, supports its games on GMO Internet's OpenStack cloud. Chief engineering officer, Toshihito Kobayashi, said that Aiming's most popular game, Logres of Swords and Sorcery: Goddess of Ancient -- a multiplayer role-playing game that obtained the top spot for gross sales in the iOS App Store in March -- had been downloaded more than 7 million times.

Contenders for the Super User award also revealed large-scale OpenStack deployments. Fico uses OpenStack to support a global credit scoring service that it claims is used to support 90 percent of the world's lending decisions. GoDaddy, one of the largest web hosting providers with more than 13 million customers, has been growing at 25 percent monthly. NTT Communications, the winner, uses OpenStack to support a web portal with over 1 billion page views and 170 million unique users per month, and an email platform carrying 170 million messages per day.

Eric Hanselman, chief analyst with Boston based 451 Research, said that large scale users "tend to be the hyper scale cloud native developers", but OpenStack had now matured to the point where enterprises in general could adopt it.

"What started out as a tool kit that required relatively skilled practitioners to build has moved to the point where there are a number of builders of OpenStack distributions that are pretty close to being ready to run for the average enterprise," he told ZDNet.

As evidence of this he cited Mirantis. "[It's] one of the best known OpenStack distribution vendors [and] this year transitioned to the point where they are now making more than half their revenue by selling the distribution rather than the services wrapped around it.

"One of the fundamentals of their business was that they were making a packaged product, but that was belied by the fact that they were making most of their money from helping you stand it up."

Hanselman said that one of the biggest challenges facing the OpenStack foundation was the creation of an ecosystem around the software, especially building up the skills base.

"We do a cloud pricing index that prices the cost of public and private clouds and OpenStack has remained relatively expensive, despite not having the licence fees of proprietary software, because of the difficulty of finding people with OpenStack skills."

The foundation is trying to address this. At the summit it launched a new professional certification program and a new tool, the Project Navigator, designed to teach users how to consume the software.

The certification program aims to provide a baseline assessment of knowledge and be accessible to OpenStack professionals around the world. Bryce said the first certification, Certified OpenStack Administrator (COA), would be available in 2016.

Bryce told the summit audience that the foundation had also launched a training marketplace two years ago, but said more needed to be done. "Any time you have a new technology the talent always lacks the technology ... This certification test will be administered virtually and will be delivered globally. It has been developed in the community with help from operators and training partners."

Hanselman commented: "The programme at least creates a path to generate more people and helps enterprises judge what people know."

Project Navigator aims to help users understand the breadth of functionality of the more than 25 cloud-related services or projects available under the OpenStack umbrella, by aggregating important information about each project -- such as maturity, release schedule, packaging and documentation support -- into an easy-to-navigate interface.

The organisation has also just released its latest version of the software, Liberty. "It was our 12th release and our biggest yet. Over 2000 developers contributed and it had over 4 million lines of code," Bryce said.