4 years on, OpenStack still can't get in the door

Despite all the hype, enterprises remain wary of the open source cloud platform, for good reason

With all the attention heaped on OpenStack, there's a profound issue that can't be ignored, as Network World has summarized: "Despite all that support from service providers across the technology industry, adoption of OpenStack is still so small that IDC analyst Gary Chen says the firm does not even have market share data for it. Some say this is the natural evolution of an initiative that only really got going in earnest two years ago with the creation of an independent foundation to govern the project. Others ask, with all the marketing and corporate backers, shouldn't there be more users at this point?"

OpenStack will turn four soon, and that's typically when technology either shows signs of making it -- or that it's losing public interest. Oddly, OpenStack seems to be showing both.

[ Wondering what all the fuss is about around OpenStack? InfoWorld's Oliver Rist explains. | Get the complete, no-nonsense explanations and advice you need to take real advantage of cloud computing in InfoWorld editors' Cloud Computing Deep Dive PDF special report. | Stay up on the cloud with InfoWorld's Cloud Computing Report newsletter. ]

The core issue with OpenStack is the lack of some foundational features that an IaaS cloud requires, including better networking, which was the buzz at the OpenStack Summit this year. However, that's not all that's needed: Although less discussed, OpenStack also needs core cloud infrastructure features around stability and usability.

Of course, the problem with foundational features is that they're pretty boring, so most of the focus has been on new features and functions layered on an OpenStack IaaS cloud that perhaps isn't quite evolved enough to be ready for your enterprise.

And that likely explains why, four years on, the most common question I get is whether enterprises should even be using OpenStack.

There's no simple answer, of course. It really comes down to the quality of the distribution more than what OpenStack is. You need to examine what works in the instance of OpenStack you're considering, as well as what does not.

To make that assessment, you need to deploy an OpenStack distribution in a pilot project, and you need to thoroughly test performance, stability, management, networking, and security before you can make your own call about what value OpenStack can bring to your enterprise.

The good news is that, if you move in OpenStack's direction this year, you won't be alone -- but you won't be in a huge crowd, either. Does that make you a bit nervous? It should.

This article, "4 years on, OpenStack still can't get in the door," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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