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Open Infrastructure Foundation hails surge in OpenStack deployments as Microsoft joins ranks

Open Infrastructure Foundation’s chief operating officer lifts the lid on how the pandemic is shaping and accelerating adoption of its open source cloud platform OpenStack

The Open Infrastructure Foundation claims the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic has led to renewed levels of demand for OpenStack-based public and private cloud, with the organisation reporting a 66% year-on-year rise in the number of cores deployed.

The foundation says demand for its OpenStack open source cloud platform has risen markedly during the pandemic, as enterprises and hyperscale datacentre operators have scrambled to revamp their IT infrastructure to accommodate remote working and changing customer demands.

During a press conference to discuss the release of the Xena – the 24th iteration of OpenStack – Mark Collier, chief operating officer of the Open Infrastructure Foundation, gave details of how the pandemic led to a rebound in demand for the technology.

“One of the things that is really incredible when we look at the data this year is just how rapidly the footprints have been growing out there for OpenStack clouds,” he said.

“We saw 66% growth in the total number of cores year over year. This is pretty phenomenal, because I don’t think we’ve seen this growth rate since the early days of OpenStack and we certainly didn’t see organisations adding 10 million cores in a year.”

According to the foundation’s own statistics, more than 100 new OpenStack clouds have been deployed over the past 18 months, and the total number of cores that are under OpenStack management now stands at more than 25 million.

The organisation is reaping the benefits of the fact that, as Collier described it, there is “more open source than ever, and there’s more infrastructure than ever” being deployed, which are both trends the pandemic has fuelled.  

“If we look at infrastructure growth as a whole, there’s been a lot written about how in the past year or so, due to the pandemic and so forth, infrastructure demand has just grown astronomically,” he said. “Several years’ worth of future growth have been pulled in and, all of a sudden, everyone needs more infrastructure.

“A lot more of the stories [written about this trend] have been about the hyperscale [side of this] growth... but it’s absolutely been driving demand for OpenStack as well.”

On this point, Collier said OpenStack is now deployed in 170 public cloud datacentres around the world. “That’s more datacentres than any other cloud technology from a public cloud standpoint,” he added.

He went on to call out some organisations that have emerged as power users of OpenStack, including US retail giant Walmart, which he said has “shot past the million cores” usage milestone, and China Mobile, which operates more than six million cores across both public and private environments.

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The Open Infrastructure Foundation has also recently seen Microsoft join its ranks as a platinum-level member, which Collier said marks a formalisation of the relationship that has long existed between Microsoft’s engineers and the OpenStack community.

“Microsoft engineers have been in the community for many years, but Microsoft]was waiting until the right time to really join at the highest levels and be a supporting member,” he said. “We are excited to see one of the largest cloud operators in the world joining the foundation.

“If you look across all the members – especially the platinum members – what they all have in common is they understand how to operate cloud scale – and Microsoft is no exception.”

Collier added: “Our whole mission at the foundation is to build communities who write software that runs in production, and having Microsoft supporting that is a good endorsement for this direction we’re heading.”

News of Microsoft joining the fold comes several years into a push by the foundation to broaden its focus beyond its roots as a community supporting the development of its flagship cloud platform, and to become more inclusive when it comes to supporting technologies produced by other open source communities.

These efforts have seen it ditch its original OpenStack Foundation name, resulting in its rebrand to the Open Infrastructure Foundation, but the development of its core product continues apace with the Xena release.

“Twenty-four releases in and we are still seeing a growing, vibrant global community contributing to OpenStack,” said Open Infrastructure upstream developer advocate Kendall Nelson.

“The OpenStack community continues to rank among the most actively developed open source projects in the world, with over 130 changes merged per day on average.

“OpenStack Xena showcases how successful community collaboration keeps the software robust and efficient, drives innovation to support emerging use cases, and continually delivers interoperability across projects and platforms.”

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