OpenStack Summit: The Golden (Channel) Age Of Open Source

From big telcos and IT providers to startups, proprietary is out and the penguin is in.

Lorna Garey

May 8, 2017

3 Min Read
OpenStack Summit: The Golden (Channel) Age Of Open Source

Lorna GareySome of us remember when running any production workload on Linux was considered living dangerously. My, have times changed. Last week, I spent some time at the largest-yet Red Hat Summit, along with about 6,000 other attendees. All three big public cloud vendors had booths on the expo floor — in fact, Microsoft was a platinum sponsor. Cisco, HPE, IBM, Juniper, Oracle and other household names jockeyed for attention with the likes of Big Switch, Black Duck and NuoDB.

For partners, operating at peak capacity in today’s open-source universe takes way, way more than supporting an email server on Linux. In fact, this week, I’m at the OpenStack Summit. A bit less code, more architecture, but many of the same names on the expo floor.  As Unitas Global founder Grant Kirkwood told us recently, OpenStack is good for the channel; at the very least, you should understand the technology, because 86 percent of global telecom companies are adopting it. Big AT&T or Verizon customers are hearing about OpenStack — the two have had public spats over who’s a bigger supporter.

Containers are a big focus at both summits, because OpenStack is a prime deployment environment for containers, while Red Hat’s the second largest contributor to the Docker and Kubernetes codebases, besides its work with the Open Container Initiative. In 2015, application containers were a $495 million market; in 2016, sales, largely of support services, reached $762 million, says 451 Research. By the end of this year, the market is expected to reach about $1.11 billion. (For a technical overview, check out Azure CTO Mark Russinovich’s blog).

For customers, adoption makes excellent sense financially. Containers use physical resources much more efficiently than VMs because they share an OS kernel. Customers can run about four to six times the volume of application instances via microservices on a given piece of hardware versus using VMs. And containers help inoculate customers against lock-in because they continue the move toward disaggregating software from hardware that VMs started. Customers may worry about security; we discuss how to answer those questions here. But the message of VAR transformation delivered by Commvault channel chief Ralph Nimergood is reinforced by the rise of containers: You’ll see fewer hardware sales, more software and services demand.

Docker is the best-known container platform, and it’s looking for partners to sell its container-as-a-service (CaaS) offerings through its Docker Datacenter commercial platform. As we learned from Alan Geary, Docker’s senior director of channels and alliances, the program has a two-tier partner structure and there’s unfilled demand for consulting, training and reselling of subscriptions.

To develop an open-source practice, remember that OSS isn’t just a different development model from packaged software or SaaS — it’s a different revenue model. Check out this new primer on license types from our VAR Guy sister site. You make your money on support, not selling a one-time license and maintenance deal.

While you will need some development expertise to support OSS, you’re going to need that anyway. As we discuss in our free report, 5 Must-Have Development Skills for Modern Channel Pros, the ability to source, configure and deploy hardware represents a limited, shrinking market as more and more companies embrace cloud for infrastructure, software and other IT needs.

Unlike with hardware, you can land and expand — a customer comfortable with RHEL on its servers now may be open to more OSS, like Red Hat Ceph Storage and Gluster Storage or a private cloud based on OpenStack. In fact, at the Red Hat show, Jay Jamison, HPE Development VP of strategy, software-defined and cloud division, said customers are pushing for more openness.

“Customers are saying, ‘Look, if you really need to sell me something proprietary, you better be able to prove to me why I can’t have it open source,’” said Jamison.

Are you at OpenStack Summit? Message me on Twitter at @LornaGarey or Tweet to @SDxEnterprise and say hi.

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