Learn firsthand about OpenStack, its challenges and opportunities, market adoption and 99cloud’s engagement in the community. My goal is to interview all 24 members of the OpenStack board (including former members like Ben), and I will post these talks sequentially at Dell TechCenter. In order to make these interviews easier to read, I structured them into my (subjectively) most important takeaways. Enjoy reading!

Rafael: What are the key accomplishments in OpenStack so far?

Ben: The key accomplishments it made was changing the world of cloud computing.

As for the service providers, not only the big players can provide cloud services, even small teams have the opportunity to use related technologies to provide the services.

As for the users, if they don’t want to be ensnared by vendor lock-in, they can try OpenStack. Cloud is inherently about open, and OpenStack was born in an effort to make technology more collaborative, affordable and available to everybody.

And last but not the least, it is the OpenStack Foundation. I think we should be proud of setting up the OpenStack Foundation!

#1 Takeaway: It’s all about usability … listening to users and incorporating what they ask for

Rafael: What still needs to be worked on? What are the “child diseases” that OpenStack has to cope with?

Ben: Winning the trust of its users will be key to our success. The OpenStack Foundation must engage with users and listen to their needs while also investing in user integration into the community. It will provide the most support and contribute the greatest value to the platform that draws the most customers.          

The community-driven development must offer more stability process through open Design Summits. The changing nature of open source web-based development processes should play a positive role.

Rafael: What is the vision for OpenStack? …or what should be the vision in your opinon?

Ben: It is really about openness and the open source cloud mission. Openness is not only about open source alone but also the way OpenStack is applying to create cloud infrastructure. The open model is on the verge of being extended the collaboration and design process where collaboration and knowledge sharing extend beyond software. Other projects have donated to the Apache Foundation or opened the source. But OpenStack does more than that, it has set setup a new FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) Foundation. It's big news for the open source community.

Rafael: What are the major challenges ahead of the Board of Directors?

Ben: First, feedback is needed from users about what needs to be improved and which features should be added. If we can define a standard policy and handling exceptions, it will be easy for users to give clear feedback on potential impacts and discuss roadmaps for changes to limit the disturbance.

Second, in cloud open standards will play a critical role in how companies are architecting for the increased demand, scale and security required by cloud deployments. We look forward to collaborating with OpenStack Foundation and the community on the OpenStack project, as well as other open source standards bodies.

#2 Takeaway: The government wants open cloud, a broad open source community wants it and customers want it – OpenStack has definitely a stron momentum in China

Rafael: Can you please explain why OpenStack is so popular in China?

Ben: I couldn't imagine the popularity in China today. When I organized the first events Shanghai OpenStack Conferece 2011, 400 participants came from across the country. After the conference we saw many companies joining China OpenStack User Group(COSUG). The number of members has increased from less than 100 to more than 1000. There are mainly two reasons for OpenStack’s popularity in China: 

First, it's good to see the government embrace open source software - though some members of the open source movement will feel a bit queasy about that. But the government is massively promoting open source, and their expectation is that within the next five years the development of cloud computing in China will further broaden.

Second, it is the power of the open source community in China. Through the power of community crowdsourcing, cloud computing software development accelerates and becomes more efficient. The cloud computing community is very active in China.

Third, using open source software significantly reduces deployment cost, and this is consistent with the direction of the development of cloud computing, and Chinese enterprises follow this pattern.

Fourth, most of the internationally leading enterprises use open source as their cloud platform, which immediately affects corporate decisions in China.

So, open source cloud platform will develop rapidly, and OpenStack will be widely used in China.

#3 Takeaway: Large Chinese internet companies deploy OpenStack on up to thousands of servers

Rafael: What are the adoption patterns for OpenStack in China?

Ben: Some people complain about OpenStack not being production ready, but I see some internet companies have already deployed OpenStack. Sina.com  has made some deployments, and we see other large internet companies deploying up to thousands of servers using OpenStack.

Rafael: What challenges does the OpenStack community face in China?

Ben: While the community is thriving a lack of sufficient support is limiting growth. Many enterprises adopted open source software, but they lack willingness to share more technical details. They are currently trying to tread a nice middle ground between completely embracing the open source community and keeping control over software it has developed.

#4 Takeaway: Challenge to future of OpenStack in China – growing number of contributors needed on the project

Rafael: What are the opportunities?

Ben: With the OpenStack Foundation actively working on open and transparent governance, the real challenge now is to grow more contributors and technical resources to fill out projects. We have a lot of good developers in China. And as mentioned above, given the vast growth potential of the market, it is assumed to be a pretty good prospect. Foreign companies operating in China have been quick to see this potential but they are largely unable to grasp it.

#5 Takeaway: 99cloud is contributing through code and evangelism

Rafael: How does 99cloud contribute to OpenStack?

Ben: I agree with your interview with Boris Renski. There are two sorts of contributions to OpenStack: writing code and evangelizing the project, with the latter being even the more important.

99cloud is pleased to participate as a member of the OpenStack community. At 99cloud, we were one of the original organizers of the OpenStack community in China. We initiated and lead a community project trystack.cn, and we donate to the Foundation.

99Cloud's interest in OpenStack derives from community and customers who need local support. OpenStack should be sufficiently stable for customers running production clouds. 99cloud is focusing to provide cloud solutions and products using OpenStack for customers in China. We know from community events that most of the customers who want to use OpenStack not only need an open source project but they expect it to be production ready. So, our goal is to create value for the customers, especially for the Chinese users.

Furthermore we want to donate Trystack.cn to the OpenStack Foundation, but there are legal issues we have to clarify, we are working with OpenStack Foundation Community Manager Stefano Maffulli on that. 

Rafael: How do you intend to monetize on OpenStack?

Ben: OpenStack is an open source technology, while cloud service is a business model. There will be a lot more “Powered by OpenStack” software and appliances in five years. Software and hardware vendors will treat OpenStack as a de facto open standard platform, and they will naturally develop and support drivers and applications for this stack. Those customers who are deeply involved in the community ecosystem want greater cloud choice/flexibility without vendor lock-in, and the ability to customize the solution to meet their customers’ needs.

The best thing about open source software systems has always been the fact that it is freely available and any programmer or company can use it to develop its own version of that software. The end users get exactly what they needed and are willing to pay for it. Companies that use OpenStack a lot and generate enough revenue from it  can afford to outsourcing service. And the specialists of OpenStack need to be trained, tested and licensed by a valid authority which will always need to route back to the service providers. 

Rafael: What is your view on Hadoop in conjunction with OpenStack?

Ben: I have been reading some news on the web about elephants to join the OpenStack cloud. But to me, the business model in China is not very clear. From a Hadoop cluster to a Hadoop cloud … will it be a SaaS? In any case, 99cloud can provide the deployment service.

Rafael: Can you name resources (both in Chinese as well as in English) … such as blogs, community pages etc.?

Ben: First of all, I want to mention Trystack.cn. It's a community project, the largest OS testing and Showcase Platform in China, built for the newest OpenStack Folsom release. It’s partnering with Intel and VMware for physical and marketing resources, it was announced during the the San Diego Design Summit 2012. They are working with the Cloud Foundry community in china to provide OpenStack deployment environments with the newest code now.

I also recommend http://openstack.csdn.net/.  There is a large number of Chinese articles about OpenStack. And also there are a lot of bloggers such as http://www.chenshake.com/and also good OpenStack manuals.

Also, it’s important to mention Ken Pepple, a good writer who wrote the book on OpenStack – “OpenStack Cloud Computing Cookbook.” The book is structured into questions on how to do things with OpenStack and the answers guide the readers through a series of repeatable steps. I am translating this book now, and it will be published this year for Chinese users.

Rafael: Ben, thank you very much for this interview.

Ben: You are welcome!


Trystack Google Group: https://groups.google.com/d/forum/trystack-china
Twitter: @OpenStackChina
Presentations: Slideshare
Weibo: @COSUG(China OpenStack User Group) or @trystack
LinkedIn Group: openstack-china


Twitter: @RafaelKnuth
Email: rafael_knuth@dellteam.com