10 years and 10 million cores: charting OpenStack’s greatest achievements

Technology anniversaries have become more commonplace in recent years. The iPhone at 10 years old, indeed Canonical itself turned 15 last year. Here though, we want to look at OpenStack reaching double figures this year. 

Starting off as a joint project between NASA and Rackspace in 2010, over 500 companies have now joined the OpenStack project in the past decade, which has spun off dozens of sub-projects. As private cloud more generally has proliferated over the past 10 years too, OpenStack has been a key component of that. But more so, it proves the benefits and the strength of open source, being one of the three most actively developed open source projects in the world.  

To celebrate the anniversary we’ve pooled some of the leading voices on the topic, to understand what some feel has been the biggest achievement of OpenStack thus far.

Open source projects for the community, by the community

At the heart of OpenStack, as with many open source projects, is a thriving community. Jonathan Bryce, Executive Director at the newly renamed Open Infrastructure Foundation which sits behind OpenStack, feels this is it’s finest work. “OpenStack’s greatest achievement is our community – a growing group of diverse contributors, users, and vendors who have enabled OpenStack to be one of the top three most active open source projects, in addition to Linux and Chromium.”

And while not always seen as being ‘mainstream tech’, the numbers are staggering. Bryce continued: “Over 100,000 individuals from 187 countries continue to support a project that is running over 10 million cores in production, powering critical infrastructure like banks, telecoms, railroads, retailers, hospitals, and more. I am so proud of the work that our community puts in daily to keep the world running on OpenStack.”  

One of the biggest issues any technology can experience is scalability. Growing fast enough to suit demand, but also ensuring that the tech can deliver consistent quality as it does so. But these views of community – and its growth – are echoed by Georgi Georgiev, CIO of Japan’s SBI Bits: “Finding the appropriate technologies to build a virtual environment is a challenge of its own. OpenStack solved this problem by putting together a great stack of projects, and more impressively, built a community around it to support. This is the best that could have happened for open source, with OpenStack being available freely to everyone, while also enabling companies to package it up and sell while improving the product together.”

Talking of growing fast, OpenStack’s complimentary nature as a companion to the ever scalable public cloud provides organisations with the best of both worlds according to Tytus Kurek, Product Manager, at Canonical: “Although public clouds have almost dominated the cloud computing market, OpenStack adoption continues to grow every year. This is because OpenStack continues to deliver a cost-effective extension to the public cloud infrastructure, allowing organisations to take control over their budget. As one of the biggest contributors to the OpenStack project, Canonical is looking forward to seeing what the next 10 years will bring.”

The media view: Technological progress

Leading journalists have also espoused the growth of the technology. The UK’s John Leonard, Research Editor at Computing reinforces how OpenStack, as part of a broader movement led by open source, has actually changed the vendor model. He feels the tech’s greatest achievement is : “Opening the door to organised open source collaboration between companies that are otherwise rivals and proving the value of a vendor neutral platform approach for enterprise software. Where OpenStack led, many others followed.”

Ulrike Ostler, Editor-in-Chief at Germany’s Datacenter Insider brings us back to what the technology enables: “OpenStack became known as the open source VMware alternative, a foundation for virtualisation in clouds of all types. In fact, infrastructure based on OpenStack offered and still offers much more. 

“Many ideas for a product-neutral infrastructure, which is suitable for clouds of any kind, but also for enterprise IT on premises, originate from the lively community. Trends such as containerisation, bare metal, real-time computing, AI and edge computing were taken up early on and have produced projects that make such applications possible.” 

OpenStack has made fantastic strides over the past decade, but naturally it needs to move forward. The fact that the OpenStack Foundation has become the Open Infrastructure Foundation, reflects the fact that this model is diversifying into new areas and projects, and it will strive to ensure access to infrastructure is available to all.

Much like Ursula alludes to, at its core, OpenStack is an enabler – of great things. While it has grown exponentially over the past decade, it remains community-driven and something that represents a common goal. We can’t wait to see what innovation it fuels in future.

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