Given the fact that OpenStack is more of a framework than an actual product that an IT organization actually deploys, the biggest challenge facing the OpenStack community at the moment maybe figuring out who will actually manage it.
While OpenStack has gained some traction among organizations that have access to a lot of engineering talent, for the vast majority of IT organizations that don’t have access to that talent OpenStack is still simply too complex an undertaking.
For that reason cloud services providers that have bet heavily on OpenStack are starting to look to the managed service provider community to fill in the gap. In fact, Dreamhost, a provider of both web hosting and cloud services, now views MSPs as a crucial channel for its services. Dreamhost CEO Simon Anderson said the marriage of the single-click deployment model developed by Dreamhost and OpenStack provides MSPs with a way to get into the management of cloud services in a way that shields them from a lot of the complexity of OpenStack.
The best and worst thing about OpenStack is that there are a lot of options. IT organizations can simply opt to take advantage of OpenStack application programming interfaces (APIs) or deploy the entire OpenStack framework spanning compute, storage and network virtualization. The challenge with OpenStack is that various elements of the stack are at different levels of maturity. For that reason IT organizations without a lot of engineering resources are finding it a challenge to scale OpenStack environments. For that reason adoption of OpenStack as a framework for managing private clouds that run on premise has been fairly limited.
MSPs, noted Anderson, that have a deep technical bench have the opportunity to manage those private clouds running on hosting and cloud services. The end result should be a less expensive cloud computing environments in terms of software licensing costs that is also more agile because the internal IT organization doesn’t have to stand up its own internal IT infrastructure anymore.
In addition, providers of hosting and cloud services, added Anderson, enable those IT organizations to more easily keep their options open at a time when containers such as Docker are beginning to drive a shift to microservices architectures. While it’s unlikely that Docker containers will completely supplant virtual machines, it is likely that IT organizations will be running a greater mix of virtual and bare metal servers in the future. Relying more on a third-party provider of infrastructure services make it simpler to move those virtual machines and containers around as needed.
Put it all together and the complexity of the cloud would appear to be driving demand for more managed service expertise that will ultimately span both private and public clouds running not only in the cloud, but just about anywhere else as well.