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OpenStack: "Cloud success determined by business culture, not technology"

The OpenStack Foundation and its supporters claim companies that prioritise technology over business culture are doomed to fail in the cloud

Enterprises must foster a supportive business culture in their organisation to boost the chances of making their OpenStack deployment a success.

Speaking at the OpenStack Summit in Austin, Texas, OpenStack Foundation’s executive director Jonathan Bryce said companies that get too bogged down in the technical aspects of cloud often see their OpenStack plans struggle to get off the ground.

“The thing that often gets in the way of large organisations during times of disruption is their culture,” he said.

“Culture is still more important than technology. The technology is absolutely critical to enable these changes, but you miss out on those opportunities if your culture is not ready to take advantage of that.”

This was a view shared by Boris Renski, the co-founder of OpenStack distribution provider Mirantis, who talked up the important contribution having the right “people and processes” in place makes when it comes to doing private cloud right.

“If you’re trying to succeed with OpenStack in your organisation, and you’re embracing OpenStack just as technology, you will more than likely fail,” he said.

Looking back on OpenStack

Much of the opening day keynote was given over to talking up how far the OpenStack platform has matured, and how much bigger the community supporting it has grown, since the foundation’s formation in 2010.

To emphasise this point, Bryce explained how just 75 people took part in the first OpenStack Summit back in 2010, while more than 7,500 attendees have made the trip to Austin for the 2016 event.

He also talked up the momentum the foundation is seeing around the use of OpenStack in the telecoms space, where the likes of China Telecom, Verizon and AT&T have adopted its software as part of their network functions virtualisation (NFV) strategies.

The appetite for OpenStack is so great in the telecoms space, Bryce said it now represents the fastest-growing use case for the technology, based on the results of the April 2016 OpenStack user survey.

This poll is carried out every six months by the OpenStack Foundation to keep tabs on how users are progressing with their deployments, with the latest version showing a marked rise in the number of users utilising the technology to manage production workloads.

Bryce said the number of production workloads underpinned by OpenStack has risen by 33% to 65% over the past year, and around 50% of the Fortune 100 are categorised as using the technology.

Read more about OpenStack

Speaking to Computer Weekly at the Summit, John Engates, CTO of OpenStack co-founding organisation Rackspace, said enterprise attitudes to the cloud OS have become noticeably softer over the past six years.

“We believed in it from the very beginning, but not everybody did. There were a lot of doubters and a lot of people who looked at it and said it is a science project, it’s not real and will never be ready for the enterprise. For the first few years, they just bashed it as much as they could,” he said.

However, things have come a long way since then, with firms from a wide variety of vertical markets – including the public sector, retail, telecoms and financial services – all using OpenStack.

“There is such a variety of use cases for it, and it is great to see so many places where OpenStack can now go. It’s really phenomenal how far it has spread,” said Engates.

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That makes sense. We’ve seen time and again how culture drives success (or lack of success). If your culture isn’t ready to support cloud activities, then no amount of technology will allow you to successfully leverage the cloud.
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