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The year 2015 was the busiest year yet for open source OpenStack cloud technologies, with technology and business development effort in full swing. There likely is no slowdown in sight as 2016 starts and organizations embrace increasingly mature open source technologies to enable cloud application and infrastructure deployment efforts.
On the infrastructure front, there were two big OpenStack milestone releases in 2015 with Kilo out on April 30 and Liberty on October 15. The Liberty release is particularly noteworthy because of the disruptive nature of changes in how OpenStack treats the project that make up the OpenStack platform.
Prior to Liberty, there were a set of 'blessed' projects that were considered to be part of an integrated OpenStack release. With OpenStack Liberty, the Big Tent model debuted with a significantly more inclusive view on the projects that are considered to be OpenStack. Instead of OpenStack being a handful of projects including Nova compute, Swift storage, Glance image management, keystone identity and the horizon dashboard, there are now myriad projects that are all considered to be OpenStack and can be part of a vendor's OpenStack distribution.
The OpenStack Foundation now even has a project navigator to help users sift through the plethora of projects that exist under the Big Tent model. Looking forward, the next major release of OpenStack is dubbed Mitaka, and is scheduled to be released the first week of April. Mitaka will continue to the evolution of OpenStack and it will also likely have more focus on developer interests as well.
Perhaps the biggest area of growth potential for OpenStack is through the embrace of containers as an application virtualization engine. OpenStack Magnum, which debuted alongside the Kilo release, enables an organization to deploy and manage bays of containers on top of OpenStack. Rackspace, which helps to lead the Magnum project, now even has a Containers as a Service (CaaS) offering called Carina, which was officially announced in October.
In 2015, there was also significant shift in the business landscape of OpenStack. The most shocking OpenStack business event of 2015 had to be the shutdown of Nebula in April. Nebula was founded by OpenStack co-founder Chris Kemp, the former CTO of NASA and in many respects a primary figure in the OpenStack world overall.
Piston, which was founded by Kemp's NASA peers, also disappeared from the OpenStack landscape in 2015, though in a more successful manner. Piston was acquired in June by Cisco for an undisclosed sum. Also in June, managed OpenStack vendor BlueBox was acquired by IBM.
Not to be outdone, Mirantis continues to raise money in 2015, including a $100 million round in August led by Intel Capital.
In 2016, we're likely to see a bit more consolidation as the remaining independent OpenStack vendors jostle for share. It's also likely that there will be additional funding events as the market for OpenStack infrastructure is still one that could represent a lucrative opportunity for the right business model.
The business model for OpenStack is still evolving, with large organizations like Walmart, Comcast, NTT and AT&T all embracing OpenStack for their cloud efforts. OpenStack in the public cloud has not fared quite as well and it remains to be seen where it will find success. One thing that won't be a question in 2016, though, will be whether OpenStack is a mature technology – it is, and it is likely only going to get better in the next 12 months.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Datamation and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist
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