OpenStack Summit to Highlight Liberty Platform, Containers

As the OpenStack Summit is set to start May 17 in Vancouver, B.C., here's a look at the trends and issues that will dominate the five-day conference.

OpenStack Summit

Twice a year, OpenStack vendors and developers gather in design summits that cover the progress of the open-source cloud platform and map out the future direction for the releases. The OpenStack Vancouver Summit from Monday, May 17 to Friday, May 22 includes the Liberty Design Summit for the OpenStack Liberty platform, which will debut later this year.

The Vancouver, B.C., event comes as the open-source OpenStack platform is at a crossroads: Challenges old and new emerge, with the rise of containers and Amazon's dominance in the public cloud being top of mind.

The Vancouver event is also a time for the OpenStack community to talk about the Kilo release, which recently debuted and was mapped out at the OpenStack Paris Summit in November.

As is the case at every OpenStack Summit since the Portland, Ore., event in April 2013, user stories will be a key part of the Vancouver event. In Portland, OpenStack marched out BestBuy, Comcast, PayPal, and Bloomberg among the big companies using OpenStack. Now in 2015, one of the big names that will discuss its OpenStack use is none other than Walmart, the world's largest retailer.

A key focus in the Kilo release that will be reinforced in Vancouver is interoperability across OpenStack clouds. With Kilo, multiple OpenStack clouds can be federated, enabling a user with access to one cloud to connect and make use of the resources on other OpenStack clouds. OpenStack Executive Director Jonathan Bryce is scheduled May 18 to deliver a keynote, titled "Cloud Unlocked: Connecting the Clouds to Create Huge Value for Users," that will demonstrate Kilo's federation capabilities.

Looking at the broader OpenStack landscape, a key issue in recent years has been about defining what OpenStack actually is. OpenStack itself today is made up of a number of projects that are part of an integrated release cycle, and then there are projects that are outside the integrated release. Some have argued that OpenStack is a "big tent," where all can participate, while others have advocated for a more narrow definition. A key conversation that has been brewing in the OpenStack community in recent years is the DefCore definition that is set to play a key role in the OpenStack Liberty release later this year. Among the many sessions covering DefCore is one from Thierry Carrez, director of engineering at the OpenStack Foundation, who is set to discuss how the big tent approach and DefCore will impact project governance.

Containers are another key topic that will be under discussion in multiple sessions at the OpenStack Vancouver event. Some have argued that containers like Docker represent a competitive threat to OpenStack, while others are working to make sure containers are well-supported in OpenStack.

Adrian Otto, Distinguished Architect at Rackspace, is the project technical leader (PTL) of the new OpenStack Magnum project, which is all about containers. Otto is set talk about how Magnum is going to make containers a first-class resource in OpenStack in a session on May 19.

Security is always top of mind in all forms of IT, and OpenStack is no exception. Multiple sessions throughout the event will cover best practices for security, including a session from Rob Clark, lead security architect at HP Helion, titled, "Lockdown: Build the world's most secure OpenStack cloud."

Another major topic that will likely be mentioned in sessions and hallway discussion alike is money and the continued viability of OpenStack as a business for vendors. Many of those conversations will likely revolve around the recent collapse of Nebula, which was founded by the former CTO of NASA, Chris Kemp.

In stark contrast to Nebula's collapse is Amazon's recent disclosure about how much money it is making from its Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud platform. No doubt, many OpenStack Vancouver participants will point to AWS' success as proof that there is a market for the cloud and there is money to be made.

At this stage of OpenStack's evolution, there have been 11 platform releases, and big vendors are deploying it in production as maturity and stability settle in.

The OpenStack Vancouver Summit will not be a place where a cloud revolution is discussed; it will be is a place where cloud reality will be detailed. OpenStack's future success is linked in part to the success of the Vancouver Summit. It will be an event with participation by a wide variety of vendors with the common goal of seeing the open-source OpenStack cloud platform move forward. Though challenges and bumps will be on the road ahead, the momentum of the Vancouver event will bring Liberty to the cloud.

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.