Ever since Open Source came into existence, one of the biggest myths about them is “it is not user friendly”. Everything from it is not easy to use to it is difficult to even deploy were thrown against open source. Most of the times, it was intentional FUD unleashed by proprietary vendors whose business is getting disrupted and at other times, it was the ignorant opinion of people whose thinking is tuned by such propaganda. As we moved into cloud based world and as open source creeped into this world, we are slowly hearing such FUD coming out in public. As someone who had dabbled in open source for more than a decade, I could spot them immediately and this post is an attempt to clear any confusion before it gets more steam.
This FUD comes from a good friend of mine, George Reese. He is a smart person and he is one of the few people in the cloud space whom I respect the most. Having made it clear, I want to take on the FUD and clarify that it is not the case. Ben Kepes covered the news of OpenStack’s Diablo release and as a part of the news coverage, he spoke with George on how the new dashboard feature affects his company. During the conversation with Ben, George made a statement which got me worked up to do this post.
Reese also mentioned that one of the big barriers for OpenStack lies in how hard it is to get an OpenStack cloud up and running, a graphical user interface stuck on top of the OpenStack offering will do little to address that problem Reese contends.
Even though I agree with George that the dashboard will not solve the problem of easy deployment, I want to point out that there are other projects in the ecosystem which makes OpenStack install a breeze. The beauty of an open source project is that it is easy for ecosystem partners to extend the project to meet the needs of wide variety of users. The availability of source code and the flexibility of licenses makes it easy to meet even the needs of the long tail users. There are many partners in the OpenStack ecosystem who extend OpenStack project in many different directions. Some of the projects were focussed on making OpenStack deployment a breeze.
I could think of at least three projects that could make OpenStack deployment a child’s play. One of them is StackOps, an European company who can be considered as Ubuntu of OpenStack. I saw a demo of their solution in the last OpenStack conference at Santa Clara and, later, I have tried it myself. I can assure you that anyone with basic knowledge about networking (good enough to input a few parameters) can deploy OpenStack and create a cloud in a couple of hours. Then there is Dell’s Crowbar, a tool that is very powerful to give extensive choice to the users while also making it easy to deploy OpenStack cloud. Even though Crowbar is tightly aligned with Dell’s hardware, its open source nature makes it easy to work with any hardware with a few tweaks. Next week, we will be hearing about another solution which also makes the deployment of OpenStack seamless and easy.
While I agree with George’s point that the new dashboard doesn’t make OpenStack deployment any easier, I want to dispute the claim that the barriers to entry are high for OpenStack. The projects I outlined about completely removes any barriers to deploying OpenStack and, in the future, we are going to see other interesting projects which makes the entire OpenStack experience simple and seamless. If you are considering OpenStack deployment, don’t buy into the arguments that the barriers to entry are very high. I can assure you that it is as easy as any other platform in the market or even better.
- OpenStack Adds Private Cloud-Building Features (informationweek.com)
- OpenStack adds UI, virtual networks with ‘Diablo’ (gigaom.com)
- OpenStack adds web dashboard to ‘floating Linux kernel’ (go.theregister.com)
- Devil’s in the detail as ‘Diablo’ powers open source cloud via OpenStack (ecmplus.wordpress.com)
- OpenStack gets a new GUI (infoworld.com)
- Deploying OpenStack (oreilly.com)
- Dell wants to make OpenStack as easy as 1-2-3 (gigaom.com)
- Dell ‘Crowbar’ Speeds OpenStack Deployment (datacenterknowledge.com)