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Where do we stand with OpenStack today, and what's on the horizon? Red Hat's Radhesh Balakrishnan, general manager for OpenStack, joined SiliconANGLE in "The Cube" at Red Hat Summit 2017 to outline steps for implementing OpenStack and what the future holds.

In the interview, he outlined three perspectives to take when evaluating OpenStack solutions for your business:

Number of production deployments. Red Hat, for example, has over 500 customers in production across the globe, spanning a variety of verticals like telecommunications, financial services, education, research and development and academia. And, according to the April 2017 OpenStack Foundation's User Survey, respondents indicated that Red Hat OpenStack Platform was the most used OpenStack-powered solution.

Health of the partner ecosystem. Red Hat is seeing very healthy consolidation and standardization in the OpenStack space. According to Radhesh, "if you look at the OpenStack ecosystem that Red Hat has been able to pull through, we have certified solutions across compute, storage, networking as well as ISP solutions that today customers can deploy with peace of mind. So that's another indication of the fact that the ecosystem is maturing as well."

Ecosystem maturity. The most exciting development in ecosystem maturity that he's seen recently is that managed service providers, such as Rackspace, IBM and Cisco Metacloud, are building their solutions on top of OpenStack. All told, there are more than 25 vNFs from top companies such as Ericsson, Huawei, Cisco and Affirmed Networks that have been certified or validated, and that number continues to grow (read more about our NFV + OpenStack ecosystem.)

So, what does the future hold and how does OpenStack fit in? Look to the cloud, Radhesh says. Today, hybrid cloud has become the norm and multi-cloud has become a real possibility. Five years ago, there was a question about whether cloud was going to be real and secure, and those questions have been answered.

"Hybrid cloud is going to be the norm implementation. And the role that OpenStack has is two-fold in that context," he explained. One role is as a private cloud implementation for enterprises wanting to avoid vendor lock-in with their cloud infrastructure. The second value that OpenStack provides is the ability to stitch together multiple clouds using an application programming interface (API) at the infrastructure layer.

"From our perspective, 80 percent of the focus is on the private cloud," said Radhesh. He pointed to security, privacy and compliance requirements dictating country-specific public cloud deployments as a key reason for this. In this case, the OpenStack model still holds true. "Even when you have a private cloud," he explained, "you can use the API that OpenStack provides to manipulate the resources that are on AWS, Google, Azure, etc. That's where I see the future shaping up."

Another part of the equation are containers, which Radhesh sees coming together with OpenStack. "The confusion stems from the fact that some people are taking the view that containers are going to eliminate the need for OpenStack itself," he says. The best approach is to help a customer move from what they currently have to what they want to implement. If you come from that perspective, you approach the solution in three steps:

  1. First, rationalize existing resources by implementing OpenStack at the infrastructure layer.
  2. Then you foster culture change using DevOps and OpenShift.
  3. Finally, when you get to implementing the full solution, you run OpenShift on top of OpenStack.

That's the ideal scenario, he says, although not every customer will go through each step. However, in his view, "the majority who are embarking on transformation over the next three to five years, they're going to be in that bucket."

Radhesh stressed that OpenStack is not the destination. OpenStack is one ingredient in the destination that customers want to get to. For example, if the customer wants to get to the destination of "open hybrid cloud," you need to consider the infrastructure layer, the application layer, and the management layer. OpenStack provides the platform for the infrastructure layer, while OpenShift provides the application development platform on top of OpenStack. "You get the fungible infrastructure at the bottom and then you get the DevOps implementation running on top of that. That's what we are seeing as the path to future," he adds.

And sprinkled amongst all of the technology is an impending culture shift. As Radhesh puts it, "the technology is the easy part." It comes down to the fact that we are "fundamentally rewiring the way in which we are thinking about applications. The way in which we are writing the applications. The way in which we are delivering the applications to an entirely potentially new set of customers and partners."

The interview wrapped up with a forward-looking summary focused on containers and hybrid cloud. The OpenStack community has made tremendous progress in delivering new use cases such as network functions virtualization (NFV) and delivering against those scenarios, and there's now clarity around the role of OpenStack within an infrastructure, according to Radesh. "The journey ahead is to make sure that containers and OpenStack can come together in a seamless manner," he said. And within the hybrid cloud adoption model that OpenStack continues to provide API stability.

Take a few minutes to listen to the entire interview, and then let us know what you think the future holds for OpenStack in the comments section below.

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