Things I Wish My Mother Had Told Me About OpenStack – Part 2

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My mother

When we last spoke, we were at my mom’s house where she was schooling me about, among other things, the value of an OpenStack distribution versus Do-It-Yourself. My mother has been a journalist for most of her 89 years and is quite articulate, but I was surprised at the depth of her OpenStack knowledge. I have a few more questions I need to ask her.

How to deal with the speed of innovation – the 6-month release cycle?

I’m thinking of deploying an OpenStack cloud to manage my home projects. It’s Sunday, and my mom checks on the pot of home made spaghetti sauce bubbling on her stove, the smell of which is making me very hungry. From the couch in her living room, I ask “Mom, the fast release cycle of OpenStack concerns me. With us being so busy all the time, I don’t think I can manage updating or redeploying my OpenStack cloud every six months.”

My mother nods knowingly, tastes the sauce and adds a little salt. “Son, the speed of innovation is what draws people to open source, including OpenStack. That’s one of the great advantages of open source, that there is a whole community of developers not necessarily bound by corporate strategy, but free to work on cool projects that solve real problems. So the speed of innovation is a good thing and you wouldn’t want to slow that down.”

“True” I say.

“When it comes to adopting that technology though,” my mother advises, “you, like any business, will have to make some decisions about innovation vs features vs stability vs time to market. For example, early in the life of OpenStack, businesses were willing to move to the latest release of OpenStack and indeed eager to move since OpenStack was still moving up the maturity curve, and each new release solved some key problems that they were encountering. And the impact of moving was minimal since they were mostly kicking the tires of OpenStack to see what it could do, or running test/dev, non-production workloads.” She stirs the sauce again and adds a little cinnamon – her secret ingredient (sorry mom).

Survey_Sep2015

From OpenStack User Survey October 2015

“But now as OpenStack moves into the 14th and 15th releases, more businesses are running their mission critical workloads on OpenStack in production. For them I imagine it’s a much bigger challenge to move every 6 months, with a lot more risk. Especially since I hear the upgrade process has not been an easy one.”

“Yeah,” I say, nodding, “that’s exactly what were seeing from our customers. In fact, as an OpenStack distribution, we face a similar issue in that delivering a new SUSE OpenStack Cloud release every 6 months is a huge development challenge. So we talked to our customers and asked them whether they planned to upgrade every 6 months, and most of them said ‘no.’ So, we made the decision to have an official SUSE OpenStack Cloud release once per year, and we will pull-in features from upstream if they look interesting or if a particular customer requires that before our next release. We’ve also built in non-disruptive upgrades and longer support to minimize the impact to the business when it’s time to move to the next release.”

“Good boy” my mother says, smiling. “This is what customers expect of a mature, business-oriented cloud solution that delivers real value and ROI. Now, get up off the couch and set the table.”

It’s time for dinner, so the rest of my questions will have to wait.

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Frank Rego
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