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Recap: #OpenStackSummit Day 1 Keynotes

openstack-summit-atlantaWith the Icehouse release completed, 4,000 cloud enthusiasts descended upon Atlanta today for the first day of the next edition of the OpenStack Summit.  With a community that has grown to over 16,000 members worldwide and impressive adoption momentum, the main task of the semi-annual gathering is to plan the Juno release.  The first morning keynotes, however, featured some guiding principals moving forward, some solid examples of how OpenStack is working for big name corporations like Wells Fargo and Disney, and some interesting announcements that should make using OpenStack more approachable to a larger audience.


The Rise of the Superuser

OpenStack Executive Director Jonathan Bryce started off the first session of the day with some reflection on how far the OpenStack community has come and how it got to where it is today. He made an analogy to how the software used to govern the community accelerates interaction and innovation by comparing it to what communicating was like in the 19th century, where a merge request would spend months in transit on a stage coach or train only to be reviewed for an hour and be rejected, which got a huge laugh in the standing room only keynote theater. He pointed out that largeness isn’t a competitive advantage like it used to be, but that speed is:

Jonathan then talked about what he called the Rise of the Superuser, meaning the kind of folks who embrace technology and help drive its adoption in their organizations. He brought two such folks on stage. Glenn Ferguson,
Head of Private Cloud Enablement for Wells Fargo Bank, talked about the special security and compliance challenges that his company faces but that at the end of the day, it’s about the “consumerization of IT’. Glenn said his organization uses OpenStack as a cornerstone of that, drawing a line at the API between those consumers and the people on his team that have to address those special security and compliance needs under the hood.

Similarly, Jonathan’s next guest, Cloud Services & Architecture Director for Walt Disney Company Chris Launey, discussed a world in which someone can launch a WordPress blog with a custom DNS name in 20 minutes at home, but is frequently faced with lengthy bureaucracy inside a corporation. As proof of how Agile methodologies can be extended to even hardware deployments, Chris told of how his department partnered with MetaCloud to deploy an OpenStack pilot in less than 3 months.

Just Rebels?  Or A Rebel Alliance?

While Jonathan’s presentation covered practical usage of OpenStack, when Rackspace’s Troy Toman came on next he spoke about the future of OpenStack in the face of the three largest public cloud providers investing over $25B in just 2013, casting the community in familiar Star Wars terms.  As he translated that into harsh realities, Troy argued that the keys to OpenStack’s future success lies in interoperability and trust.

Troy made a compelling case that where we’re headed as an industry is towards a cloud of planetary scale.  That only happens when you get the kind of federation that lets you move between clouds in a way where you authenticate with one and are granted privileges on another.  As a first step to that level of interoperability, you need a compatibility framework that everyone can agree on, which he introduced as DefCore:


Troy then invited everyone who’s willing to contribute to DefCore, which seeks to become the minimum defining standard for all products with the OpenStack label.  That led to his second pillar: Trust.

He pointed out that the OpenStack community has grown beyond the boundaries that allow everyone to know everyone else.  By their nature, nearly all contributors have some ultimate commercial goal from their OpenStack efforts, but Troy plead that only if everyone assumes the best intentions from everyone else, trust, does the whole system work.  That doesn’t mean you don’t have conflict because good arguments lead to better results, but without the trust, get something else:


Announcing a Superuser forum and a Marketplace

The morning session concluded with Jonathan taking the stage again for a set of announcements. First, he talked about a new online community experience for operators at  In the early days of OpenStack, the only people who could use it were the ones who built it.  The code was the documentation.  That has not only changed, but gone a step further with this online community, where operators of OpenStack can share best operational practices which will no doubt lead to more sophisticated feature requests.

The last announcement had to do with the OpenStack Marketplace.  There, you can find all kinds of services, consulting, training and anything else you need to get started with the platform.

Tuesday: Day 2

Tomorrow’s Day 2 promises to be just as information packed with keynotes by OpenStack COO Mark Collier, and presentations by both SolidFire and Canonical.

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