OpenStack is a collection of open source software for building public and private Clouds. It can be used either by providers that want to deliver infrastructure as a service to customers or enterprises that want a private Cloud for on-demand, self-service provisioning of compute services for departments. The roots of the project, which launched mid-2010, lie in collaboration between NASA and Rackspace. Tristan Goode is the CEO of Aptira and the only Australian on the board of the OpenStack Foundation.
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What has been the driver, both overseas and in Australia, for organisations investing resources in OpenStack?
I’ve said many times that OpenStack is “cloud for the rest of the world”, meaning that innovative and progressive solutions the world over are being developed ground-up on OpenStack, without proprietary constraints. I also think it’s been the fact that OpenStack is incredibly well supported by its community, and its modularity.
The fact that it is open source means that it’s incredibly flexible and this allows organisations to build a cloud to suit their needs. You just can’t get this level of flexibility with any proprietary solution. There is always accessible help from all over the world. It is just a great time to be involved and watching this technology evolve into exactly what people want from cloud.
Do you have any indications about the state of support for OpenStack in Australia?
It’s starting to take hold and interest is growing rapidly. As well as Aptira and Haylix running production, and the NeCTAR research cloud now being federated from Melbourne Uni into Brisbane, Canberra and Perth, I know of at least three other significant local players that are in or very near production. Add to this the many on-premise private clouds, some of which we’ve been involved with and many more that folks are home growing themselves, and it’s clear it’s getting traction.
One indication of the wider awareness is that of the first couple of hundred registrations for linux.conf.au 2013 in Canberra in January, around half the attendees have indicated they will be attending the OpenStack Miniconf on the Tuesday. This compares to no mention of OpenStack at the last linux.conf.au only one year ago.
What do you think is likely to drive OpenStack deployment in Australia? Is there anything holding it back at the moment?
Again, the key driver is that I see OpenStack as “cloud for the rest of the world.” It does give us all a great opportunity to be innovative at home, to develop IP on and around OpenStack with any of that technology having the potential to be the next big thing. This is classic reverse brain drain. The interest I’ve seen from as far and wide as Vietnam, South Africa and Brazil confirm this.
I also come back to the data sovereignty issue as another driver. In spite of what any cloud provider might tell you about offering local contracts and the like, it is still a grey area, and I wouldn’t want to be a test case should a seizure condition arise.
I’d also much rather seek legal redress through the Australian legal system than a foreign system. There is still some reluctance to cloud adoption in Australia, but this is starting to fade. We have seen deployments of on-premise private clouds in Australia that have gotten people comfortable with cloud technologies in a familiar environment, and this is naturally leading enterprises towards hybrid and public cloud deployments.
How is the Australian OpenStack community organised at the moment? Do you have any plans on that front, in terms of more meetups around the country, or possible conferences?
We have an “umbrella” group that is used to organise events around the state capitals. An example is an upcoming event in late November, where we’ll hook Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne together via video link and present across the locations.
Most significantly we are starting to share event organising across the nation. Local people are stepping up and project managing their home town events. It was recently discussed at the OpenStack Summit that communication between user groups around the world needs to be enhanced, so we’re trying to lead the way by holding our meetups in new ways. I’ve also been working with the OpenStack Foundation on forming an effective information portal to facilitate inter-user-group communications across the world.
I expect conferences will have much more OpenStack involvement during 2013. PyConAU in July was another conference [with] little OpenStack activity this past year, but next year it also will have an entire day around OpenStack.