If 2013 was the year of OpenStack adoption, 2014 will be all about "spitting and polishing" the open source framework for building public and private clouds to make it easier to deploy and use than ever. That's the message from two veterans of the cloud hosting industry, who shared their insights recently on where OpenStack cloud computing is headed in the coming year.
In a recent call, Jonathan LaCour and Simon Anderson, who are, respectively, CEO and VP of Software Development at DreamHost (Anderson is also a member of the OpenStack Foundation board of directors), emphasized that the last 12 months have witnessed widespread adoption of OpenStack. That was true not only in the United States but also Europe, where OpenStack seemed to enjoy less momentum about a year ago at this time.
Going forward, however, both executives envision a bit of a shift in the direction of OpenStack's momentum, with feature and usability enhancement poised to be at the core of OpenStack development now that the adoption phase is largely complete. "In 2014, the theme really is about production hardening of OpenStack," Anderson said, adding, "work needs to continue to be done to make [OpenStack] perform optimally."
But that work is already in progress in the form of initiatives including a unifed command-line interface, which will provide a common CLI tool for working with all parts of OpenStack. When complete, the interface will mark a significant usability improvement over the current system, where different OpenStack components rely on client-specific administration interfaces that aren't necessarily consistent with one another.
Lacour pointed to a similar usability enhancement that is in the works for Nova, the compute orchestration part of OpenStack. Developers are currently building a new Nova API designed to be friendlier to deployers.
Improvements such as these will increase OpenStack's appeal and make it easier for enterprises to put it into widespread production use. Meanwhile, Lacour and Anderson agreed that the modular, open source nature of OpenStack is another crucial boon to its success. "What' s great about OpenStack for vendors is that open part," Lacour said, who stressed the ease with which channel partners can integrate OpenStack into their own solutions.
And viewed from the broadest perspective, that open bit is also, perhaps, what sets OpenStack apart the most from comparable paradigm-shifting technologies that preceded it. While it can be tempting to liken OpenStack to, say, VMware (VMW) virtualization, which radically reshaped the computing industry of its time, OpenStack is very different in the key respect of being completely open source, and therefore more easily integrated with third-party platforms. That characteristic, even more than the usability enhancements that the OpenStack community can look forward to for 2014, will likely assure OpenStack's success over the long term.