Red Hat: We don't need no stinking dictator to make money out of OpenStack (in late 2015)

Open source company reckons young technology is 18 months away from major market adoption


Open source company Red Hat thinks it might start making significant money out of OpenStack in the Autumn of 2015 and it won't need a Linus Torvalds-like dictator to keep the project focused.

The company told El Reg on Wednesday at the Red Hat Summit that it will turn the data center management cloud technology into serious money toward the end of next year. Red Hat recently re-organized its business units to help it push OpenStack into the enterprise, with the hope of creating the same lucrative market for the data center management and provisioning tech as it did for Linux half a decade ago.

"The next 18 months is foundational," explained Red Hat's general manager for OpenStack Radhesh Balakrishnan, in a chat with El Reg. "We already started ringing the cash register on OpenStack. Would we like it to be ringing more? Absolutely. What do we see on the horizon? A ten to fifteen x scaling potential."

So far the majority of Red Hat's OpenStack deployment has been for test and development, Balakrishnan said, but he expects major production – and with that major money – deployments to come along by the end of next year.

OpenStack, like Linux, will take several years to make money and Balakrishnan seemed to feel that the expectations by the press for insta-profitability are a bit unrealistic. OpenStack launched in mid-2010 with technology donated by Rackspace and NASA and since then has signed up a fleet of contributors including Intel, HP, Red Hat, and others.

"It's a three-plus year old startup," explained Dave Cahill, Solidfire's Director of Strategic Alliances when asked about what he saw in OpenStack's future. VMware, he pointed out, was founded pre-2000 and didn't start to make serious money till around 2009. A lot rides on OpenStack's success as it gives company's a potentially cheap way of managing thousands upon thousands of servers without having to pay for the basic software.

"People want a tool to solve this and want to get out of the VMware tax," he explained to El Reg. OpenStack may be that tool.

One reason why OpenStack has failed to pull in as much cash as its various corporate backers hope could be a lack of focus within the project that has led to feature-creep in some areas and a lack of development on key features like networking and scheduling elsewhere.

When El Reg asks cloud insiders what could be done to give the project more focus, many argue that OpenStack needs a 'benevolent dictator' who would lead OpenStack development in the same way Linus Torvalds uses his opinionated, curmudgeonly persona to steer Linux development.

Right now, OpenStack development is steered by a Foundation – a form of governance unlikely to yield a member saying to an OpenStack developer "I'm f*cking tired of the fact that you don't fix problems in the code *you* write," as Torvalds wrote recently.

Although this isn't a particularly pleasant way to develop software, having a single opinionated individual dictate the direction of a project can give it focus – after all, besides Linux many proprietary companies have grown successful by being led by a strong leader like Jeff Bezos (Amazon), Bill Gates (Microsoft) or Larry Ellison (Oracle).

Red Hat isn't convinced by this argument and argues that OpenStack's "Foundation" model of governance is sufficient.

"We don't believe the need for [a Linus figure]," Balakrishnan said. "Personally, if I had a choice between a reasonable set of customers and customer reasoning and someone who is a colorful personality I'm more convinced by the other. It's a more pragmatic approach. There is also the other dimension - Linux was just compute, now you're talking about storage and network and compute and PaaS - the scope gets really large for one single visionary."

For OpenStack to be developed to the point of serious profitability "we need multitudes of leaders!" Balakrishnan said.

Dave Cahill of Solidfire is optimistic as well, saying that the Foundation has "generally done a pretty good job" and that OpenStack won't suffer as long as the Foundation "doesn't become a standards body."

"The OpenStack Foundation gives the technical meritocracy and influencing ability to the ones driving it. If the best brains are driving it why worry about the personality?" argues Balakrishnan. ®


Other stories you might like

  • Robotics and 5G to spur growth of SoC industry – report
    Big OEMs hogging production and COVID causing supply issues

    The system-on-chip (SoC) side of the semiconductor industry is poised for growth between now and 2026, when it's predicted to be worth $6.85 billion, according to an analyst's report. 

    Chances are good that there's an SoC-powered device within arm's reach of you: the tiny integrated circuits contain everything needed for a basic computer, leading to their proliferation in mobile, IoT and smart devices. 

    The report predicting the growth comes from advisory biz Technavio, which looked at a long list of companies in the SoC market. Vendors it analyzed include Apple, Broadcom, Intel, Nvidia, TSMC, Toshiba, and more. The company predicts that much of the growth between now and 2026 will stem primarily from robotics and 5G. 

    Continue reading
  • Deepfake attacks can easily trick live facial recognition systems online
    Plus: Next PyTorch release will support Apple GPUs so devs can train neural networks on their own laptops

    In brief Miscreants can easily steal someone else's identity by tricking live facial recognition software using deepfakes, according to a new report.

    Sensity AI, a startup focused on tackling identity fraud, carried out a series of pretend attacks. Engineers scanned the image of someone from an ID card, and mapped their likeness onto another person's face. Sensity then tested whether they could breach live facial recognition systems by tricking them into believing the pretend attacker is a real user.

    So-called "liveness tests" try to authenticate identities in real-time, relying on images or video streams from cameras like face recognition used to unlock mobile phones, for example. Nine out of ten vendors failed Sensity's live deepfake attacks.

    Continue reading
  • Lonestar plans to put datacenters in the Moon's lava tubes
    How? Founder tells The Register 'Robots… lots of robots'

    Imagine a future where racks of computer servers hum quietly in darkness below the surface of the Moon.

    Here is where some of the most important data is stored, to be left untouched for as long as can be. The idea sounds like something from science-fiction, but one startup that recently emerged from stealth is trying to turn it into a reality. Lonestar Data Holdings has a unique mission unlike any other cloud provider: to build datacenters on the Moon backing up the world's data.

    "It's inconceivable to me that we are keeping our most precious assets, our knowledge and our data, on Earth, where we're setting off bombs and burning things," Christopher Stott, founder and CEO of Lonestar, told The Register. "We need to put our assets in place off our planet, where we can keep it safe."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022