Survey: OpenStack users value portability, support, and complementary open source tools

75 percent of the respondents in a recent survey [1] conducted for Red Hat said that being able to move OpenStack workloads to different providers or platforms was important (ranked 4 or 5 out of 5)–and a mere 5 percent said that this question was of least importance. This was just one of the answers that highlighted a general desire to avoid proprietary solutions and lock-in.

For example, a minority (47 percent) said that differentiated vendor-specific management and other tooling was important while a full 75 percent said that support for complementary open source cloud management, operating system, and development tools was. With respect to management specifically, only 22 percent plan to use vendor-specific tools to manage their OpenStack environments. By contrast, a majority (51 percent) plan to use the tools built into OpenStack–in many cases complemented by open source configuration management (31 percent) and cloud management platforms (21 percent). It’s worth noting though that 42 percent of those asked about OpenStack management tools said that they were unsure/undecided, indicating that there’s still a lot of learning to go on with respect to cloud implementations in general.

This last point was reinforced by the fact that 68 percent said that the availability of training and services from the vendor to on-ramp their OpenStack project was important. (Red Hat offers a Certified System Administrator in Red Hat OpenStack certification as well as a variety of solutions to build clouds through eNovance by Red Hat.) 45 percent also cited lack of internal IT skills as a barrier to adopting OpenStack. Other aspects of commercial support were valued as well. For example, 60 percent said that hardware and software certifications are important and a full 82 percent said that production-level technical support was.

In keeping with adoption patterns around cloud generally, reduced time to deployment of services was cited as a top three performance indicator for an OpenStack project by an overwhelming 77 percent of respondents. 44 percent said having a more responsive infrastructure to demand changes was a key indicator. Reduced IT operational costs (52 percent) showed up on this question as well which isn’t really surprising given that cost always plays some role even if it’s not the driving factor behind most cloud projects.

Unsurprisingly, many (42 percent) plan to use containers within their OpenStack environment. Yet only 11 percent definitively don’t plan to do so; the rest – almost half are undecided.

That there are so many undecideds dovetails with a couple of other results. Specifically, although 59 percent plan to run new workload types in their OpenStack environment, a majority (52 percent) plan to instead or in addition run existing virtualized workloads. Furthermore, 22 percent cited a lack of fit with current application architectures as a barrier to OpenStack deployment. Put those together and I see some uncertainty or even outright misunderstanding around matching OpenStack and related cloud-native architectural patterns with existing enterprise “systems of record.”

Addressing the different needs of classic IT, including back-office systems of record, and cloud-native IT is the impetus behind what Gartner and others call “bimodal IT.” Bimodal IT explicitly recognizes that different parts of IT operate on different cadences. Classic IT favors stability and scale-up. Cloud-native IT favors agility and scale-out. The results suggest to me that some are looking to use OpenStack as part of a classic IT environment where it may not be a good match or that they are simply unsure how to best bring in cloud-native infrastructure and applications–apropos the skills issue mentioned earlier.

 

[1] TechValidate, an independent research company, conducted an online survey on behalf of Red Hat from April 28 to May 5, 2015. The survey polled more than 310 enterprise IT decision makers and professionals.