Europe warms to OpenStack

OpenStack is finally taking off in Europe, it seems. As with most cloud infrastructure, uptake has been somewhat behind the curve here, but it looks like things are changing.

OpenStack Foundation COO Mark Collier (L) and Executive Director Jonathan Bryce (R)

OpenStack Foundation COO Mark Collier (L) and Executive Director Jonathan Bryce (R)

According to OpenStack Foundation Executive Director Jonathan Bryce (pictured at the first OpenStack DACH Day in Berlin on Friday), the last 6 months have seen adoption pick up all over the world. However, it’s a relatively new phenomenon in Europe and Asia, he added:

“There’s more tolerance for early adoption around this technology in the U.S. We’ve seen that not just in Europe, but in Asia as well. In the last few months we’ve definitely seen people picking it up in other countries, and in some cases it means they’re getting the benefit of all those early adopters.”

How about numbers? Well, that’s tricky – because OpenStack is open-source, there’s no way of nailing down precisely how many organizations and providers are using it. However, some big hitters are certainly getting publicly behind it.

Marquee adopters

CERN, the European nuclear research organization that runs the Large Hadron Collider, is one of them. Although it’s also involved with sort-of-OpenStack-rival (although less so these days) OpenNebula, CERN has been toying with OpenStack for a while and is now in the process of rolling out a 150,000-virtual machine private cloud using the platform.

Meanwhile, Deutsche Telekom has been involved with OpenStack for over a year now and has been using it to deliver a security service (along with fellow OpenStacker ClearPath) since March this year. This summer it will move more applications onto its OpenStack-based cloud, Kurt Garloff, head of cloud services engineering at the telco, said at Friday’s event.

And then we have the grand French clouds, Cloudwatt and Numergy, both of which are based on OpenStack.

Why now?

According to OpenStack Foundation COO Mark Collier, the technological requirements of European users are the same as those of U.S. users, but the drivers for adoption are often different, “particularly around data sovereignty.”

“For example, in France there are a lot of companies and policies that create an incentive to have local clouds where the data resides,” he told me, pointing out that the open-source nature of the technology and its resulting widespread take-up by variously-sized outfits meant there were “hundreds of cities where you can get OpenStack.”

Florian Haas is the co-founder of Hastexo, a professional services company that isn’t aligned with any vendor, but has found itself working a lot with OpenStack (it’s a heavy contributor on the high availability front). He reckons Europe has been a slow cloud adopter due to a combination of legal and privacy concerns and a general “degree of conservatism” but, now that cloud adoption is happening, it’s happening on OpenStack:

“Of the big four [stacks] we’re not seeing any OpenNebula, although interestingly there are a few German companies here [at LinuxTag] pushing it hard. We’re not seeing any Eucalyptus. We’re seeing a bit of CloudStack and a massive amount of OpenStack.

“Europe is late to the cloud party, but that creates an interesting situation, which is that much of Europe didn’t go through the AWS(s amzn) uptake cycle. Strangely enough, OpenStack is filling a void, rather than displacing something else.

“A lot of the people we talk to are actually using OpenStack to essentially reorganize their data center. They might have old-style iron-and-wires data centers, or they might be running on proprietary virtual solutions. They’re now considering public and private cloud, and OpenStack is the default.”

With this pace of change — everyone keeps talking about the last 6 months — it will be interesting to see how much further things have gone by our Structure:Europe conference in London on 18-19 September, where we will of course be discussing issues such as stack choice.