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OpenStack Foundation calls for greater enterprise input in open source initiatives

OpenStack Foundation claims enterprises are increasingly realising that their future depends on being actively involved with open source

The OpenStack Foundation is calling on enterprises to step up their involvement with the open source community to ensure its work keeps pace with the rate of innovation occurring in the internet of things (IoT) and big data era.

Speaking at the OpenStack Summit in Austin, Texas, Mark Collier, the foundation’s chief operating officer, said the proliferation of connected devices in the coming years will require a rethink of how to manage the infrastructure underpinning them all.

Citing Cisco’s oft-quoted Internet of Everything projections, Collier said there is expected to be around 50 billion devices connected to the internet by 2020. Analyst Mark Field predicts this will require underlying support from around 400 million servers.

“There is no way you can manage hundreds of millions of servers the way they have been managed before,” said Collier.

Managing devices on such a large scale may be beyond the capabilities of OpenStack without the collaboration of suppliers and users to help the foundation shape future releases and realise use cases for the technology, he added.

“When we think about the tools and technologies that are going to emerge to manage that massive scale, of course, it’s going to be a huge opportunity for OpenStack. We’re excited about that, but we can’t do this alone,” he said.

This is particularly as managing the servers of the future may require a Lamp Stack-like platform approach, built using open source contributions from a variety of communities.

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“We have to look at the history of how open source projects have come together and created an opportunity that is bigger than the other individual projects on their own,” said Collier.

“What will be the Lamp Stack of cloud? We don’t know yet, but we can talk to users and ask them what they’re doing so we can identify the patterns, and think about what are they doing with OpenStack.

“We have an opportunity to identify those patterns and work well with other open source projects and be a part of the 400 million servers we’re going to manage in a few years.”

Businesses must collaborate to survive

This is one of the reasons why some of the world’s biggest companies – including Volkswagen, Walmart, China Mobile and A&T – are tapping into the OpenStack community, having realised they may need outside help in dealing with the digital demands of the future, said Collier.

“If you think of the power these companies have had historically, they don’t take orders from anybody – they’re the big dogs of the industry. They’re realising that to survive and thrive in the future, they need to be part of open communities,” he said.

“What they realise is something is really at stake for them, and if they do not do this they’re going to be in big trouble. There really is no such thing as too big to fail when it comes to the tech industry. These companies realise it is collaborate or die when it comes to their future.”

Encouraging as wide a variety of people as possible to contribute to OpenStack is also essential, he added. This is because of the growing diversity in tools and technologies people are deploying in the datacentre. 

“In the same way the users grew the Lamp Stack to become something more valuable than any one project, we have to listen to our users,” he said.

“Users just want something that solves the problem. If they can combine OpenStack with two or three other things or more and create value, that’s what they’re going to do,” he added.

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