Learn firsthand about OpenStack, its challenges and opportunities, market adoption and SUSE’s engagement in the community - from Alan Clark, Chairman of the Open Stack Board and Director of Industry Initiatives, Emerging Standards and Open Source at SUSE. My goal is to interview all 24 members of the OpenStack board, 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!

#1 Takeaway: OpenStack aims to deliver the industry’s best open source cloud software

Rafael: Can you give a brief overview over where OpenStack is now?

Alan: The foundation exists to create a ubiquitous cloud platform. We want to deliver the best open source cloud software out there. I think we are doing a great job with that. I was looking at the latest data, and there has been over 3,000 patches in the last quarter submitted to OpenStack. That's a lot of work that the community is putting in. We’ve got around 800 contributors, we're averaging about 200 contributors a month participating in the project, and we’re way over 7,000 members in the community.

A priority that we've been working on is accelerating the adoption of OpenStack and getting recognition for those that have already implemented after trying OpenStack in their environments. One of the first things we did last fall was to create the user group. It’s not just another user group, we're actually getting them involved to the provide feedback into the development of the software. Lastly, we are making efforts to educate educating our ecosystem, so people know what the different components of the software do, how they can install, administer, do updates and so forth.

#2 Takeaway: It’s tough to compete with a consortium of 150 enterprises backing OpenStack

Rafael: OpenStack aims to be an alternative to Amazon and to VMware. Both are fully operational businesses at a billion-dollar scale, whereas OpenStack is in a proof-of-concept phase. How does the OpenStack community intend to close that gap?

Alan: First, there are lot of companies that have already deployed OpenStack or using it in their businesses day-to-day, and they are not small businesses. If you look at the case studies that have been put out - AT&T, Rackspace, eBay and others, those are big companies and they are using OpenStack successfully. We need to educate on that, and I think we're pretty weak in the area of getting that news out.

Thinking about the number of companies and number of people that are involved, we get a community of over 7,000 members. We've got over 800 developers working on this cloud and over 150 companies that are involved.  VMware and Amazon are essentially competing with a consortium of 150 companies. That's tough, that's really tough. Although I think it’s not entirely fair to characterize VMware as competing because they're actually a member of the OpenStack community.

#3 Takeaway: Billions of smart sensors everywhere – in the future, cloud computing might propel an ecosystem of new services

Rafael: How do you envision the cloud computing industry in five years? What will be different compared to now?

Alan: It's very young technology, and I believe that cloud computing is going to look very different in the next 5 to 8 years. We're going to have billions of smart sensors everywhere all over the world, for example at your home, where they are going to keep track of electricity you're using, whether your securities are on or off etc. All that data is going to turn into services. Instead of reactive services they're going to become proactive, they will require a lot of active computing, database processing and so forth. Those are going to create new, different and very exciting services over the next four or five years.

Ideally, much of that is going to be done in cloud because it's going to have to be extremely elastic, very flexible - ebb and flow like. Cloud computing is a very natural fit for those. So I believe cloud is going to have to transform in order to fit those types of services.

#4 Takeaway: SUSE Cloud is a complete OpenStack implementation tied with SUSE Linux Enterprise

Rafael: How do you position SUSE within the OpenStack ecosystem?

Alan: SUSE focuses on the enterprise environment, and we’ve been shipping a product called SUSE Cloud.  It is the complete implementation of OpenStack tied with SUSE Linux Enterprise. The reasons why SUSE picked OpenStack is the robustness of the community as well as customers’ feedback. SUSE’s decision is based on customer demand, strength, vibrancy and innovative nature of the OpenStack project, and the track record as well as the ability of the community to deliver software.

Rafael: Thank you very much, Alan!