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IT Innovators: Is OpenStack Right for You?

IT Innovators: Is OpenStack Right for You?

We can’t talk about the cloud every week—public, private or hybrid—without at some point touching on the topic of open source standards, or in this case, OpenStack. According to the non-profit organization OpenStack Foundation, OpenStack is open source cloud computing software for creating public and private clouds. More succinctly, it’s a cloud operating system that “controls large pools of compute, storage, and networking resources throughout a datacenter, all managed through a dashboard that gives administrators control while empowering their users to provision resources through a web interface.”

It’s been around for a while and depending on your point of view, has its pluses and minuses. On one hand, it’s based on open source, so there’s no fear of the dreaded vendor lock-in. It also has support from many key industry players, offers robust security, and can help drive greater operational efficiency and in turn, IT transformation.

Using OpenStack’s standardized, powerful and easy to use dashboard as a way to monitor and manage cloud services takes IT professionals away from the notion of silos created around hardware and the respective vendors supplying it. These legacy siloes aren’t always properly aligned with the business processes they are supposed to support and that can lead to operational inefficiencies. The OpenStack model helps IT professionals gain back that efficiency by doing more, faster.

On the other side of the coin, there are those who would argue that OpenStack is more hype than anything else. Of course, what new standard isn’t these days? But, it also isn’t quite as easy to work with as some would have you believe. As with any new technology, there is a learning curve and if you want to deploy it properly you have to hurdle that curve. OpenStack has its own deployment complexities as well.

That’s not to say that OpenStack isn’t right from some organizations; it’s just important for any IT professional wanting to use it to realize that they have to go into the process with eyes wide open. They need to be aware of the potential challenges ahead and be willing to work through them.

According to the OpenStack Foundation, one reason why you might want to undertake the challenge is virtualization.  For global telecoms, network functions virtualization (VFV) brings greater agility and cost savings, and those are benefits that can all be garnered with OpenStack. The organization even put out a white paper earlier this year aptly titled, “Accelerating NFV Delivery with OpenStack.” The paper details NFV, its business value and how OpenStack supports NFV, including a look at specific use cases.

But what about the hybrid cloud, the topic we talk about so much in these blogs each week? How does OpenStack impact the hybrid cloud? In truth, some enterprises are embracing the idea of a hybrid cloud via OpenStack. The challenge here; however, is that OpenStack APIs don’t support out-of-the-box integration with leading public clouds. While that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible, it does mean that a great of time and effort are needed to get a solution specifically tailored to your specific IT organization’s needs. Here’s a good presentation from the OpenStack Foundation website, to help get you started.

Regardless of where you stand on the whole open source discussion, it’s clear that OpenStack is positioning itself for the long haul. In fact, 451 Research predicts that by 2017, what was an $850 million market in 2014 will have grown to 2.4 billion. With such a booming market, you’d be wise to do your homework and find out whether OpenStack is really right for you and your organization.

If you happen to be one of the growing number of OpenStack users, drop me a line at [email protected], with your thoughts on why and how it’s working for you and your organization. In the meantime, check back here for future OpenStack-related blogs and in particular, how that relates to the hybrid cloud.

This blog is sponsored by Microsoft.

Cheryl J. Ajluni is a freelance writer and editor based in California. She is the former Editor-in-Chief of Wireless Systems Design and served as the EDA/Advanced Technology editor for Electronic Design for over 10 years. She is also a published book author and patented engineer. Her work regularly appears in print and online publications. Contact her at [email protected] with your comments or story ideas.


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