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OpenStack takes off, moves into production

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OpenStack production deployments have more than doubled in 2016, according to a Red Hat survey.
Last year, the Red Hat OpenStack Platform team surveyed its customer base on their use of OpenStack and found that, while interest was high, most of the respondents were still learning about OpenStack clouds or developing proof-of-concepts.
In this year’s customer survey, however, the results looked significantly different, with 43% of the global respondents stating that they are now using OpenStack in production, up from 16% a year ago.
Trendlines also indicate that:
* OpenStack is critical infrastructure for application development, especially with containers;
* Built-in management tools aren’t doing the job by themselves;
* Customers want workload portability across OpenStack and other infrastructures; and
* Organisations are looking for strong technical support.
Not only have production deployments increased, but the use cases are growing as well. The bulk of respondents (66%) are now using, or planning to use, Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) with their OpenStack deployments. This is a jump over last year’s survey, when just 54% of respondents were considering PaaS and OpenStack together, and shows the combined growth in interest of these complementary technologies.
Adding another layer of importance to the interplay of OpenStack and PaaS is the growth of Linux containers, particularly among developers. As containerized applications emerge as a new workload type, OpenStack is a prime deployment environment among respondents. Only four percent of respondents are not considering containers on OpenStack, while 57% of respondents said that they are already using or plan to use containers on OpenStack, with the remainder undecided.
Managing a private or hybrid cloud deployment is critical to production success, otherwise workload performance and associated resources can degrade, if not outright suffer. While OpenStack includes built-in management tools to help monitor these needs, the 2016 survey shows that respondents are branching out into third-party management technologies. The use of OpenStack’s built-in management tools remains roughly the same as last year (54% in 2016 versus 51% in 2015); additional management and monitoring technologies are now being added to the mix, like:
* Open source configuration management (used by 41% of respondents);
* Cloud management platforms (used by 39% of respondents); and
* Monitoring and alerting tools (used by 47% of respondents).
Portability is a big deal to respondents, especially as the majority are running or plan to run OpenStack workloads across a variety of environments – this carries over to vendor solutions, as 67% of respondents rated portability as an important or very important feature in commercial OpenStack. Only 10% of respondents have or are planning OpenStack-only workloads, while traditional virtualisation (28%), bare metal (37%), public clouds (29%) and other private clouds (35%) form the rest of the hybrid mix.
As for the workloads themselves, respondents indicated a healthy mix of:
* Existing virtual machines (61%), up from 52% in 2015, indicating a boost in traditional workloads being on boarded to OpenStack;
* New cloud-optimized workloads (64%); and
* New workload types (50%), like containerised and cloud-native applications.
When it comes to buying commercial OpenStack, support, open source leadership and certification matter to respondents. Seventy-three percent of respondents rate technical support of commercial offerings as very or most important, while more than 80% rate community leadership as at least somewhat important. Finally, the vendor ecosystem is a big deal, with 66% of respondents rating hardware and software certifications as very important or greater.
From a doubling in production deployments to the increased migration of traditional virtualised workloads, the survey suggests that there is reason to be optimistic about OpenStack’s enterprise future. There are distinct needs that still need to be addressed, namely unified management and providing strong support for Linux containers, but overall, the survey results indicate that OpenStack is now beyond the proof-of-concept phase and ready to support mission-critical operations.