Stacking up OpenStack

I like OpenStack, the open-source Infrastructure-as-a-Structure (IaaS) cloud, a lot. But that doesn’t mean I’m blind to its problems. And I’m not the only one who sees them.

Talligent, a cloud management company that’s invested in OpenStack, surveyed nearly 650 technology professionals to see how they’re finding OpenStack to date. Its State of OpenStack Adoption Report shows a community of cloud adopters who are ambivalent about OpenStack.

Of the surveyed group, “More than half  … were already using OpenStack within their organization in some form or fashion: 32% were kicking the tires and evaluating it, and 30% were using it to support current projects or production workloads.”

The good news?

  • OpenStack is considered a cost-effective alternative to public clouds.
  • The expectation is that OpenStack will be able to handle any workload type in short order

I agree with both of those points. But then things get dodgy.

Security Model (26%) and Lack of Operational Tools (23%) were mentioned most often as the top challenge for OpenStack adoption.

Sad, but true. And I’d reverse them. Yes, security is always important, but OpenStack is hard to manage, and we need better tools. It’s that simple.

This is underlined by the fact that “Evaluators of OpenStack believe that complexity and difficulty of deployment are decreasing, while Users of OpenStack are more likely to rate that complexity and difficulty of deployment are increasing.”

I’ve seen that too. It’s getting easier to get OpenStack up and running. Getting it to work just the way you want though? That’s a different story.

Still, as a survey participant said, “The lack of operational tooling coupled with the reality of deployment tools really needs to get solved to decrease the complexity as well as assist not only deploying but also supporting OpenStack.”

Some problems people reported are problems that come with deploying any complex technology. For example, “The migration to an OpenStack platform is complex and requires a lot of architectural planning that is always underestimated.” The same would be true of migrating to any cloud platform.

So, it comes as no surprise “that 85% of respondents currently using OpenStack reported that they are paying for support or related services to maintain their environment.” Now both I and Talligent, expect that number to decrease over time as OpenStack and its tools mature, and as more users become experts in the field, like what happened with VMware vSphere environments.

But that’s going to take a while. A long while.

OpenStack is not easy to master. There aren’t enough OpenStack administrators to go around. And, when you can find them, they’ll cost you a pretty penny.

On the other hand, everyone — both OpenStack newcomers and old-hands — know that, once it’s up and running, OpenStack is stable and growing more stable.

So if you want a solid, open-source private cloud, OpenStack is still my top choice. Just keep in mind that to make it work well for you anytime soon, you’re going to need a technology partner. OpenStack is not a do-it-yourself cloud.


OpenStack: Good cloud, but hard to master

Now available: A catalog of OpenStack apps

OpenStack professional certification is on its way


  1. Really a great post Steven. I haven’t read any post with such a critical analysis of OpenStack.

    Good Job!

    Liked by 1 person

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