Thoughts from the Fall 2011 OpenStack Design Summit and Conference

As the conference is coming to a close in Boston today, I wanted to provide two observations.

First, the announcement by Rackspace this week that they would be turning over the intellectual property and trademarks for OpenStack to a not-for-profit foundation in 2012 marks a potentially watershed moment for the future of OpenStack.

One of my main motivations for hopping a flight to Boston earlier this week was to get a sense for the future of governance and strategy for the OpenStack™ projects, and I was not disappointed. Despite getting leaked to the media the day before, Rackspace’s formal announcement yesterday was clearly the most impactful development.

It will be up to the members of the OpenStack community to determine the success of this burgeoning open source cloud platform. For sure, this membership is a credible cast and rapidly approaching an ecosystem-level of maturity. Members span a broad swath of cloud service providers like Internap, technology providers, government agencies, universities and research institutions. Some of the biggest names in technology are supporting this effort including Dell, HP and Cisco.

As it is formed and control is transferred, creation of the structure and governing rules of the foundation will be a critical activity. The foundation will need to be flexible enough to attract innovative contributions by organizations of all kinds, while protecting the OpenStack brand, maintaining a quality platform and allowing participating organizations to benefit from the shared development.

Done right, OpenStack will make the transition from a growing open source cloud project to a leading platform for the world’s technology needs, which challenges the market power of some of the current proprietary offerings. Done wrong, well … let’s focus on getting it right. To do our part, I look forward to Internap ramping up our participation in the OpenStack community in the coming months.

The show also confirmed that there is a terrific opportunity for innovative engineers in the OpenStack community that is not being fully met.

This week, I met people from around the world who clearly are passionate about the success of OpenStack. This talented group understands what it takes to develop a platform that can scale to massive proportions, deliver on the promise of high availability and provide functionality to support a plethora of cloud-enabled applications and systems. We need even more smart people like them.

There was evidence everywhere that the firms in the OpenStack community are hiring, especially for software engineers. As innovation occurs and new job markets emerge, the supply of skilled talent must shift to meet the need. This is a fundamental principle of our global economy and is clearly on display in high-tech, specifically the world of OpenStack and cloud.

I’ll close with a call to the software development community: if you have an interest in developing the latest, emerging cloud technology, OpenStack represents a terrific opportunity to contribute to a meaningful project that has the potential for long-term global impact. There are lots of ways to contribute. In fact, Internap is doubling our OpenStack-related engineering team. Who will step up to build OpenStack into a leading cloud platform of the future?