OpenStack Foundation head reflects on OpenStack cloud and 2013 outlook

OpenStack Chairman Alan Clark outlines his expectations for the progress of OpenStack cloud deployments in 2013 in the second half of this Q&A.

Editor's note: In the second half of this Q&A on the future of OpenStack, continues the conversation with Alan Clark, chairman of the OpenStack Foundation and director of industry initiatives, emerging standards and open source at SUSE, a private Linux distribution provider that also sells commercial Linux-based products. Clark offers deeper insight into OpenStack's goals for 2013, and predicts how the project will overcome obstacles to portability, interoperability and differentiation to better enable providers looking to build an OpenStack cloud.

Don't miss part one: Q&A: Best of OpenStack Folsom, a 2012 recap, and what's coming in Grizzly

From a broad perspective, what do you hope the OpenStack community achieves this year? How do you think the project might grow?

Alan Clark: The foundation was created in September, so in 2013, a big part of our effort will be focused on the OpenStack mission, which is to create a ubiquitous cloud platform. We're focused on private, hybrid and public cloud environments, which is why we've got so many vendors that want to come and participate.

Alan ClarkAlan Clark

A lot of the work we've been doing from September up to now is still going on. We've got our budget in place for 2013. We've got the executive director in place; he's busy hiring staff. We've got a lot of staff in place now, [but the director] has got a couple of positions that he's trying to get filled through the next release. The technical committee has been up and running for several months now; they're the ones that get together and determine the high priorities for each of the releases. We've got our user committee up and running; we've got our training and certification committee up and running; we've got our legal advisory committee up and running. We've done a lot of work getting ready for 2013. All those things are enabling us to focus on the mission.

Then the second highlight for 2013 is the materials that we're working on putting together to respond to some of the market misunderstanding and critiques regarding the OpenStack project. We'll try to address the questions that are being raised around that, and we're working on [documenting] a lot of user case studies.

There's been so much change in all the recent releases coming up to Folsom that compatibility has been a question from Diablo to Essex to Folsom, and … we still have to work on [that].
Alan Clarkchairman, OpenStack Foundation

OpenStack has been held up as the answer to the question of cloud portability, but if providers have different implementations of an OpenStack cloud, how can this be true? Is that a misleading idea?

Clark: No, it's not, but there are a couple of challenges. What are people implementing? Are they using all of OpenStack? Are they just taking pieces of it? Are they just using a subset of the [application programming] interfaces? What are they using? As an open source project, you can't tell people, "Well, you have to take everything or nothing at all." The way you can manage that is through the trademark programs: You can't call your site an OpenStack cloud unless you use these components and these interfaces. That's what we've implemented, and that's the first part to address the issue.

The second part we're still working on, and that's the upgrade problem. There's been so much change in all the recent releases coming up to Folsom that compatibility has been a question from Diablo to Essex to Folsom, and that's something that we still have to work on going forward.

Were there any features or developments that greatly affected cloud service providers in 2012? Do you have a sense for what they're looking for from OpenStack in 2013?

Clark: I think one of the big ones they were looking for has been Quantum. Additionally, because a bit of criticism we had last year was around the interoperability question, one of the areas we worked on to address that was the trademark program. With that, people who are using those services [built on OpenStack] will know what it is they're using. Hopefully, by introducing this program, we can provide users of those services with some knowledge and information so they can recognize that they're using the same releases and same services. What we introduced was the notion of an OpenStack cloud [brand] for the service providers and an OpenStack distribution [brand], which is mainly targeted for the enterprise [vendors and] providers like Red Hat, SUSE and even Rackspace now, actually, but mainly Red Hat.

How do you think cloud providers can use OpenStack to differentiate their services?

Clark: A good example would be how [my company] SUSE is using OpenStack. SUSE has a product out there called SUSE Cloud [a platform for deploying private cloud Infrastructure as a Service] that's built on OpenStack. We're using OpenStack, but SUSE hardens it and makes sure that enterprises can leverage their existing infrastructure. SUSE Cloud has multi-hypervisor support, for example, and they leverage all the applications that run on SUSE, all the hardware support that SUSE has, and all the different infrastructure vendors. We fold in all the product lifecycle processes, and we've worked very hard on [simplifying] the installation process. Plus, we integrate it with other SUSE tools and services like SUSE Studio and SUSE manager so [the final product] is not just OpenStack -- it's all those other pieces that we combine with it. That's what gives SUSE differentiation, and that's what you'll find with all the different players and members of the community. They have different areas of the cloud market that they focus on, and they have pieces that they use to differentiate themselves, yet we're all building on this common base of OpenStack.

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Jessica Scarpati, site editor.

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Which OpenStack project is most in need of further development for cloud providers?
further dev on dashboard