In Austin, OpenStack Rediscovers Its Roots In Disruption

Jonathan Bryce claims telcos are coming to ‘disruptive’ OpenStack to find NFV success

TechWeekEurope lost count of how many times OpenStack Foundation executive director Jonathan Bryce said the word ‘disruption’ at today’s OpenStack Summit keynote, so it’s clear that this is an agenda that the Foundation is eager to continue ramming home going forward.

In its six years of life, OpenStack has gone from almost exclusively focusing on giving customers a real cloud alternative to Amazon Web Services (AWS), to maturing successfully into a standalone foundation with a handful of mature vendors who are implementing OpenStack deployments for public cloud, private cloud, and telecom industry use cases.

OpenStack at its very core set out to disrupt, and in Austin today, Bryce revisited that notion.


That disruption seems to coming this year from the shift towards directly targeting telcos with NFV use cases with OpenStack.

Verizon is a new customer, revealed today, signing up with Red Hat for one of the largest ever deployments of OpenStack for use with Network Function Virtualisation (NFV). AT&T is also a large presence at this year’s summit, happy to explain how OpenStack is helping the company transform its cloud operations.

But OpenStack knows it needs to do more, especially when it comes to attracting large North American businesses. How? By positioning OpenStack even more so as a platform that can disrupt, and a platform that can turn a legacy business into a business that is ready for the digital age.

“One of the themes you’ll hear about all week is that we’re in the middle of disruption,” said Bryce.

So within a few minutes of the keynote starting, Gartner’s Donna Scott was on stage promoting the ‘bimodal IT’ way of working that the research house has been so keen to promote over the past two years.

“It’s important because it seeks to unlock creativity and innovation in organisations,” said Scott.

openstackFor the uninitiated, Gartner’s Bimodal IT splits working into two modes. Mode one is the predictable, traditional way of working.

Mode two is the experimental, unpredictable, ‘startup’ mentality. Gartner, an ex-critic of OpenStack, sees using both modes as the route to success, and Scott effectively gave OpenStack glowing praise for how the platform can help customers do this.

“Some people love it, some people don’t love it,” said Bryce. “But I think that the reason why I think it’s important is because it matches up to what we see in a lot of established organisations.

‘Greatest opportunity’

“We see this over and over and over again with OpenStack users. When you talk about disruption, a lot of times, people focus on the scary parts of it. That is sometimes how we think about it when we hear that term. But actually, times of disruption are the times of greatest opportunity. If you are able to capture the value in a time of disruption, that’s where you can really accelerate your business.”

“For a lot of companies, OpenStack is a strategy. It’s a strategy for taking advantage of diversity in IT. And we see a lot of that diversity. One of those areas we’ve seen an increase in diversity is in the use cases of people who are running on OpenStack. And we’ve started to categorise them into four main categories: private clouds, public clouds, telecoms and NFV market, and then also research and Big Data.”


Bryce said that the telecoms and NFV division was the fastest growing part of OpenStack, calling Verizon and AT&T some of the “largest telecoms companies in the world”.

It was last year at OpenStack’s Vancouver summit where the Foundation really started its conversation publicly about how OpenStack can be used for NFV in telcos, and this year, that vision is realised more so than ever,

“Bottom line, open source software is the key driver for maximum speed and agility. OpenStack is a huge driver of this transformation,” said AT&T during the keynote.

AT&T San AntonioTechWeekEurope quizzed Bryce on the push towards telco NFV customers, and whether it was a conscious decision to go after this market or rather a reaction to demand.

“We’ve seen a much different set of use cases, which I think is more about who’s adopting it, rather than a strategic change from us,” he said.

“We’ve enabled new kinds of use cases. On NFV specifically, two years ago we started talking about NFV about the summit in Atlanta in 2014. At that time, it was mostly AT&T that was talking about it in regards to OpenStack.

“Since then there has been a lot of different approaches that have been tried in the telecom industry, but in the last year there has been coalescence around OpenStack among many of the largest global telecom companies. What that has done, is that it has brought focused contribution efforts and design efforts into specific components of OpenStack.”

When you have a conversation about disruption, you mostly think about big companies being disrupted by startups. But telcos like AT&T and Verizon don’t have to be at a disadvantage. They already have the massive user base and all of its associated data.

Bryce wanted to hammer home today that what often gets in the way of disruption and innovation at larger companies is the culture.

“Culture is more important than technology,” he claimed

And it’s that open source, diverse culture that OpenStack is ready to offer to all those who come.

Quiz: Cloud in 2016