Discussion on the state of cloud computing and open source software that helps build, manage, and deliver everything-as-a-service.
CloudStack Collaboration EU 13: The Esprit De Corps of Open Source
I started to write this post after CloudStack Collaboration Conference EU (CCCEU) a few weeks ago but I was so exhausted I simply passed out. The conference was so good that while my mind was willing my body slept for 16 hours to recover. Despite the delay I think that it was an event of significant note.
CCCEU was a gathering of almost 400 people from over 30 countries to discuss Apache CloudStack. It’s very seldom that I would describe time spent talking about software to be euphoric but I can’t think of a better word. I found it particularly notable how effective a small group of volunteers can be as they came together in support of a cause they believe in. While this event had all the trappings of a regular software industry event beautiful venue (the Beurs van Berlage the spark for modern Dutch architecture a very fitting venue for what I believe is the spark for private cloud platforms), numerous talks by industry luminaries, exhibits, live entertainment and free drinks. Though there was something ineffable about the atmosphere. It was very collaborative and despite many people competing for attention, resources and vendors with overlapping solutions, I didn’t detect a bit of animosity among the participants. This video does a good job showing the spirit of the event.
Community of Code and the Apache Way
What got me hooked on open source in the first place was its esprit de corps; which I saw manifested at at CCCEU. The feeling was palpable. Open source is unique in it provides raw materials at a negligible cost for people to do amazing things and the mechanism for sharing ideas is equally accessible. Imagine if you would Ford and Chevrolet having access to free raw materials and parts for building their cars and a customer mandate to collaborate on driving standardization between their vehicles. It’s unfathomable. Though that kind of collaboration takes shape every day in the world of open source software a theme I touched in during my keynote, The Why of CloudStack.
Some of the other amazing keynotes (being posted to You Tube) came from CFengine founder and configuration management pioneer Mark Burgess who talked about Uncertain Cloud Infrastructures in a keynote and his skepticism of deterministic management models (see this presentation from Devops Days to get the gist). Dell’s resident DevOps expert John Willis talked the convergence of virtualized networks and trends in DevOps in another keynote espousing the growing agile operations principles (on a side note his ignite talk Deming to Devops was also killer). In his opening remarks Chip Childers, VP of Apache CloudStack, showed off some pretty impressive traction on the humble but vibrant project, 21,000 commits, hundreds of developers producing over 2.5 million lines of code in a very short amount of time. Childers also showed off hundreds of clouds in production (as no one buys CloudStack we he only had anecdotes about the most vocal users) including Autodesk, BT, Gilt.com, TomTom, AutoTrader, SunGard, and many, many more.
Another bright spot was that the ringleader for the event wasn’t a marketing guru or a conference organizer it was an affable Agile Scrum Master, Harm Boertien for mission-critical systems integrator, Schuberg Philis who provides high-end application support on CloudStack clouds. The company does make money-providing services but they leverage open source to do so, not unlike Amazon who built their cloud utilizing numerous open source technologies like Linux and Xen. Though they are a small company of a less than 200 and they dedicated hundreds of man-hours to organizing the event for reasons that transcend self-promotion and lead generation. Their generosity was not an anomaly; scores of people donated their time and expertise to the event. Sponsors including Citrix, NetApp, VMware, Splunk, Sungard and many, many more provided financial support to make the event a success.
While not a true open source disciple Steve Jobs was effective at using open source in many of his projects including OS X but he made a point in general that is especially relevant to CloudStack.
“A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.”
I really feel that the huge input from users (not software vendors alone) with a broad variety of experience are active in the CloudStack design process makes it a premium solution. Their first hand experience is what drives CloudStack. CloudStack is easy to use and provide highly scalable cloud orchestration of compute, storage and network resources. It's also very extensible to include other technologies that are better developed outside of the project. This focus on a core platform that provides a beautiful self-service interface and good coordination of resources across geographic regions is what has made CloudStack successful to day and provides a platform for further innovation.