OpenStack Driving the 'Software-Defined Economy'

The OpenStack open-source cloud platform is now being used in production. In fact, a BMW supercar showed up at OpenStack Summit in Paris.

OpenStack open source cloud

PARIS—At the OpenStack Summit here, there is a lot excitement about how the open-source cloud is already being used in production. It's a level of excitement that quite literally drove right onto the keynote stage.

Jonathan Bryce, executive director of the OpenStack Foundation, kicked off the keynotes by outlining the current state of the IT market. "Today, everyone competes with a startup, and in the tech industry there is always disruption," Bryce said.

The modern world is now driven by what he referred to as the "software-defined economy." In the software-defined economy, the ability to modify features and functions is something users and enterprises alike expect.

Bryce also contrasted how virtualization came into enterprises, with how the cloud has been adopted. While the cloud leverages virtualization, Bryce noted that in most IT organizations, the move to virtualize servers was a planned exercise, with corporate approvals before deployments occurring at scale. In contrast, he described the cloud as an insurgent technology, driven by need.

"Everyone in business is now able to make decisions. It's not about central planning; it's about who has a credit card," Bryce said. "In the software-defined economy, production is about producing value for the business, users and customers."

OpenStack is open-source software as is Linux, on which all OpenStack deployments run. Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation was also part of the OpenStack Summit keynote lineup, and he was full of praise for the cloud platform.

Zemlin speaks frequently about why the open-source model works, beyond just Linux itself. According to Zemlin, OpenStack is an open-source blockbuster and a shining example of the best that open-source and collaborative software development can deliver.

"Every market Linux has gone into it has conquered," Zemlin said. "Sharing matters and what you are doing is bigger than any one of you; with open-source, you can better yourself, your company and you can better the world."

One way to better the world is through the use of smarter hybrid-electric vehicles like the BMW i8 supercar. In a dramatic entry, Mark Collier, chief operating officer of the OpenStack Foundation, drove a BMW i8 onto the keynote stage.

To detail the connection between the flashy sports car and the cloud, Stefan Lenz, data center and IT infrastructure manager at BMW, explained that the company is beginning to use OpenStack.

BMW is able to operate outside Germany, a high-cost region to run a business, because the automaker is heavily automated for its infrastructure services, he said

The drive to further automate and improve efficiency is what is driving BMW to OpenStack, Lenz said. "We're very conservative folks; we want to build cars, not build software."

While Lenz is enthusiastic about OpenStack, he has some reservations. For example, he said he's not a fan of the rapid release cycle of OpenStack, which sees new major milestone updates every six months. That said, Lenz noted that while he would like more stability, the release model is not preventing BMW from using OpenStack.

"We can't be more cost-efficient doing what we have always done," Lenz said.

Another company that spoke from the OpenStack Summit keynote stage was Time Warner Cable, which is also embracing OpenStack.

"Today OpenStack is mature," said Matt Haines, vice president of cloud engineering and operations for Time Warner Cable.

Time Warner Cable isn't the only, or the first, U.S. cable operator to publicly state its support for OpenStack. At the OpenStack Portland event in 2013, Comcast detailed its support and production use of OpenStack.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.