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OpenStack thriving, survey says, but growth comes from a few big users

New markets harder to convince, says analyst

OpenStack is "alive and well", according to the Open Infrastructure Foundation (OIF), claiming deployments grew 60 percent this year compared with 2021. However, much of the growth appears to come from a small number of existing users, many of which are telcos.

The open-source cloud framework has now delivered an alphabet's worth of releases with the arrival of the "Zed" version last month, but the perception is that momentum behind the platform has fallen away since the heady days of the early releases – when backers expected it would take a significant share of the private and public cloud markets.

Perhaps to counter this, the 2022 OpenStack user survey strikes an optimistic tone, claiming that OpenStack adoption has hit 40 million cores in production, a 60 percent increase on 2021, and that it is now running in over 300 public cloud datacenters worldwide.

However, the report itself points out that a significant amount of this growth in the number of cores in production deployment was accounted for by the Million Core Club – a handful of companies that are the largest OpenStack adopters.

These include LINE, a Japan-based instant messaging service that more than doubled its footprint to 4 million cores, the Workday HR and finance platform, plus China Mobile, China Unicom, Huawei and Walmart Labs.

But deployments vary greatly in size, with more than half (56 percent) falling between 100 and 10,000 cores. Among this group is the IT organization of Schwarz Group, including retailer Lidl, which expanded from 5,700 cores last year to 15,000 cores in production use.

The OIF report says adoption of core services, including Nova, Neutron, Keystone, Glance and Ironic remains high, which won't surprise anyone as these provide the basic infrastructure services.

Users are now starting to bring in additional services from the OpenStack portfolio such as Octavia and Magnum, which address load balancing and container orchestration, respectively, as companies extend to hybrid cloud environments and integration with Kubernetes, the report states.

This is reflected in the findings, which indicate the percentage of respondents running a hybrid cloud environment with OpenStack has risen, if only slightly, from 77 percent to 80 percent. Almost half of production deployments are now running Octavia in production, it claims, an 11 percent increase from last year.

Users running production workloads with Magnum has risen from 16 percent to 21 percent of those using OpenStack with Kubernetes to operate containers.

The OpenInfra Foundation also claims that new datacenters have launched this year in regions that have historically not seen much OpenStack adoption such as Africa, South America, and countries in Asia beyond Japan and China.

"Hype is nice but substance lasts, and as OpenStack deployments continue to grow in staggering numbers the OpenStack community is proving that it's not only alive and well, but also delivering indisputable value to organizations," said Thierry Carrez, general manager of the OpenInfra Foundation, in a statement accompany the report.

Andrew Buss, senior research director for IDC in Europe, told us OpenStack has had a mixed reception because it proved complex to deploy and operate.

"The main user base has been service providers and telcos and some larger or more digitally driven enterprises. A number of these remain enthusiastic about the platform, having mastered the complexity, but we do not see a shift to conquer new markets," he said.

OpenStack failed to convince many enterprises to adopt it as their infrastructure platform, and instead organizations, especially in Europe, preferred to adopt on-premises versions of public cloud stacks that require less effort to manage and provide hybrid cloud support.

"Our findings are that Microsoft Azure Stack is the most extensively adopted, followed by Google Anthos, then VMware Cloud. All of these have the benefit of being able to run on standard OEM server kit from HPE, Dell and Lenovo among others," Buss said.

The 2022 OpenStack user survey took in over 300 deployments and feedback from over 430 respondents, captured between August 2021 and August 2022. ®

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