Virtualization Technology News and Information
How is OpenStack so dead AND yet so very alive to SREs?
Article Written by Rob Hirschfeld, CEO RackN 

Infrastructure is dead.  The brief window of general population developers caring about physical or cloud servers is closing; consequently, there's a headline grabbing "XYZ cloud is dead!" meme that plays directly into that narrative.  And for those users, they are delighted to dance on its grave because running infrastructure is hard, thankless work.  OpenStack is dead to them.

Yet, infrastructure is obviously a required component for all data centers.  There is no "serverless" platform without servers!

In the cool, dark reaches of operations centers and infrastructure labs, teams of engineers still write infrastructure automation software.  These platforms are not shiney new tooling; in fact, they are supposed to be reliably boring internet plumbing.  This area is the quiet domain of IT Admins, Operators and Site Reliability Engineers (SREs).  It's needfully quiet because it's very hard to make disruptive changes in working infrastructure.

The OpenStack community enjoyed a brief spotlight before everyone realized that infrastructure is hard and proclaimed that it was dead (to them).

The reality is that OpenStack does have significant traction and customers.  The challenge is that infrastructure is, and should be, boring plumbing.  The cloud hype curve of 2011 has moved to other flashy developer focused topics like containers, serverless and machine learning.  And beyond the hype, the project has moved from building to sustaining phases.  That does not make the work less important or profitable, but it is less exciting in our NEW NEW NEW IT hype cycle.

If not dead, then what has OpenStack become?  It remains a central open infrastructure community.

A focus on open operations software and hardware is the core reason that I continue to invest in the OpenStack community.  From the beginning, the project has attracted people who believe that running IT in an open, shared way creates value for everyone.  We've felt that we could be more innovative together and knew that there was an profitable ecosystem to build.   Along the way, we've hit a few bumps including run-away vendoring and losing sight of core.  I see that the community is making adjustments that include fully embracing technologies that were once considered competitive.

Infrastructure is not that sexy, but it is essential.

We're going to keep solving problems in and around the OpenStack community.  I'm excited to see the Foundation embracing that mission.  There are still many hard decisions to make.  For example, I believe that Kubernetes as an underlay is compelling for operators and will drive the OpenStack code base into a more limited role as a Kubernetes workload (check out my presentation about that at Boston).  While that may refocus the coding efforts, I believe it expands the relevance of the open infrastructure community we've been building.

Building infrastructure software is hard and complex.  It's better to do it with friends so please join me in helping keep these open operations priorities very much alive.


Read Rob's follow up article, OpenStack's Big Pivot: our suggestion to drop everything and focus on being a Kubernetes VM management workload

About the Author


Rob Hirschfeld is the Founder and CEO of RackN, and has been involved in OpenStack since the earliest days, with a focus on ops and building the infrastructure that powers cloud and storage. He's also co-Chair of the Kubernetes Cluster Ops SIG and a four term OpenStack board member. The RackN team has deep knowledge of Kubernetes (deploying it on clouds and metal), OpenStack (created the Crowbar project), and cloud native architecture (migrated Digital Rebar to be micro-services). Rob has deep ops knowledge of both platforms AND experience with cloud native migrations. He's also a regular speaker at OpenStack Summits about items including SDN, interop and running Kubernetes. @zehicle  

Published Tuesday, May 30, 2017 7:03 AM by David Marshall
OpenStack???s Big Pivot: our suggestion to drop everything and focus on being a Kubernetes VM management workload | RackN - (Author's Link) - May 31, 2017 9:24 AM
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