OpenStack Summit Talks: It's Time to Embrace Disruption

The cloud isn't just about technology; it's about changing the way people work. Disruption is a key theme at the OpenStack Summit, which started today.


Austin, Texas—The OpenStack Summit kicked off today here with big-name organizations, including AT&T, Volkswagen and Verizon, talking about their cloud experiences on the keynote stage. For those organizations and many others like them, the cloud—specifically OpenStack—represents a form of disruption, which was a key theme that was repeated through the keynotes.

"Times of disruption are the times of greatest opportunity," OpenStack Foundation Executive Director Jonathan Bryce told the summit audience.

For Bryce, the summit here is a homecoming of sorts, as Austin was the location of the first OpenStack Summit in 2010. For the first OpenStack Summit, there were 75 attendees; today, that number has grown to 7,500, as organizations big and small embrace OpenStack.

Used for private and public cloud deployments, OpenStack is also the backbone for large carrier network-functions virtualization (NFV) efforts. Additionally, OpenStack is used for big data deployment in some of the largest research facilities on Earth.

"Half of the Fortune 100 now runs OpenStack," Bryce proclaimed.

While OpenStack has experienced rapid adoption since the first summit in Austin in 2010, Bryce recognizes that it can be a disruptive technology. The promise of every new technology is that it will make things simpler.

"All new technology ends up being additive to other technologies that still need to be maintained," Bryce said.

The reality of IT is that it must embrace the diversity of technologies, both old and new, he said. By embracing diversity, technology disruption can have a positive impact, enabling organizations to support legacy production technologies while benefiting from new approaches.

OpenStack and its backers have long billed the platform as an integration engine. Bryce noted that at the core of OpenStack are compute, storage and networking capabilities that help to provide the infrastructure primitives on which other technologies can be based.

"OpenStack is not the answer for everything, but it ties into all the layers," Bryce said.

Old apps can make use of OpenStack primitives and run on the cloud platform, he added.

For organizations with existing applications, OpenStack is that opportunity to move ahead, but disruption isn't just about technology.

"Culture is still more important than technology," Bryce said. "Technology is important to enable change, but if culture is not ready to take advantage of the change, it won't work.

In modern IT organizations, there are always competing priorities, and success in OpenStack or any technology initiative, according to Bryce, is about satisfying competing priorities.

Voicing similar sentiments, was Boris Renski, co-founder and chief marketing officer at Mirantis, which was recently selected by Volkswagen Group to help build its OpenStack cloud.

"Success with OpenStack is one part technology and nine parts people and process," Renski said.

Red Hat Chief Technologist Chris Wright used his time on the keynote stage to briefly talk about Verizon's adoption of OpenStack, which is being enabled with Red Hat's help. Wright noted that lots of people have tried to define OpenStack, but he's got a simple definition.

"OpenStack is next-generation cloud infrastructure, and it's a place for the industry to collaborate," Wright said.

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.