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Chinese companies fuelling OpenStack adoption in APAC

Led by Chinese tech giants such as Tencent and China Mobile, the Asia-Pacific region will account for a third of the global OpenStack market by 2023

Major telecoms and hyperscale cloud companies in China are leading the charge in OpenStack adoption across the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, the OpenStack Foundation (OSF) declared at its Open Infrastructure Summit in Shanghai today.

Citing the use of OpenStack by the likes of Tencent and China Mobile, the OSF said these companies are playing a critical role in the rapidly growing OpenStack market in APAC.

Take Tencent, for example. The company behind the WeChat super app and hyperscale cloud supplier has been using OpenStack to power its operations and public cloud services that are being used by different industries, according to Jeremy Wu, vice-president of Tencent Cloud.

At China Mobile, OpenStack is also being used to deliver public and private cloud services, as well as its own telecom cloud that will be ready by the end of the year to power its next-generation telco network, said Liu Junwei, senior engineer at China Mobile.

According to 451 Research, the OpenStack market in the region is slated to grow by 36% over the next four years, accounting for a third of the $7.7bn global market in 2023. “China has embraced open infrastructure, putting it to work to solve problems at a scale seldom seen elsewhere in the world,” said Jonathan Bryce, executive director of the OSF.

“Users throughout China are combining OpenStack and Kubernetes to solve big open infrastructure problems. And increasingly, they’re leveraging projects like Airship and StarlingX, using open, composable infrastructure to meet the demands of applications operating at China scale.

“We’ve never had an Open Infrastructure Summit with more large-scale users presenting than we’re seeing this week in Shanghai, and the community is learning a lot from what they have to share.”

Read more about open source in APAC

China, which accounts for at least half of the world’s OpenStack deployments, has the third highest number of members in the OSF, an organisation comprising users and contributors to the open infrastructure projects hosted and piloted by the organisation.

The latest version of the software, dubbed OpenStack Train, was released on 16 October 2019, featuring nearly 3,000 changes contributed upstream from China – the second largest contributor of changes among 165 countries. With over 150 contributors, China also ranks second globally in terms of the number of contributors.

“China values open source collaboration and contributes its expertise to the world through Chinese companies like Huawei, Tencent, Alibaba and Baidu,” said Xi Guohua, president of the China Communications Standards Association, noting that these companies have gone beyond being users to becoming key contributors to OpenStack.

Tim Sheedy, principal advisor at Ecosystm, told Computer Weekly that the growth in demand for cloud services in China and APAC inevitably results in higher adoption of open source infrastructure software such as OpenStack.

“Many of the tools and platforms used by cloud companies are based on open source code, and many platforms that are seeing growth in the cloud, such as Docker and Kubernetes, are open source products,” Sheedy said. “The complexity of licensing traditional software in the public cloud meant that early adopters embraced open source software.”

Sheedy added that telcos and cloud suppliers are also more likely than others to contribute to open-source projects, given that they mostly operate at the infrastructure and platform levels – rather than at the application level where code contributions are more unlikely due to competitive reasons.

“So, the ‘engineering’ focus of their developers and product builders means they tend to customise code – not just use it – and then often publish these changes back to the source code,” he said.

Impact of Suse’s exit

In October 2019, long-time OpenStack supporter Suse announced that it is dropping its OpenStack cloud software business to focus on application delivery, Kubernetes and DevOps.

Mark Collier, chief operating officer at the OSF, downplayed the impact of Suse’s move, emphasising the ability of the OpenStack community to weather any changes in its contributor pool.

“The community is very resilient to these changes,” Collier said. “We are the most diverse open source community, and the number of opportunities and options in the market are still very large.”

Bryce added that as code contributions to OpenStack by individual companies are mostly in the “single digit percentage” range, the OSF does not expect any “negative impact” from Suse’s decision.

Read more on Information technology (IT) in ASEAN

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