OpenStack Havana goes live, but here’s what’s important: new users!

The OpenStack Havana release is available as of Thursday — but the delivery of semi-annual code updates is table stakes. What will be more telling is how many actual user companies — as opposed to OpenStack-affiliated vendors — show up at the big OpenStack Summit next month in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong skylineAnd that metric looks promising. “Shutterstock and Concur(s cnqr) and Workday(s wday) will all speak about their usage, [as will] Ctrip, China’s largest travel service,” said Jonathan Bryce, director of the OpenStack Foundation. MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Lab (CSAIL) will also talk about its OpenStack deployment.

At least some of those user names will raise eyebrows. A few months ago, an HP exec announced that Workday was moving from AWS to HP’s OpenStack-based cloud but was immediately shouted down by AWS. And Workday chairman Aneel Bhusri subsequently told GigaOM Structure attendees that Workday is a “happy customer” of both AWS and HP — although he didn’t specify whether that includes HP’s OpenStack-based cloud. Carmine Rimi, Workday’s director of cloud engineering, will be in Hong Kong talking OpenStack.

Similar nuttiness ensued when Mirantis, an OpenStack vendor, told the world that PayPal(s ebay) would move from VMware to OpenStack.

Before anyone hyperventilates, let’s remember that many companies can and will run multiple cloud technologies. Still, the fact that more than the usual user suspects — MercadoLibre, CERN, Hubspot — are speaking at the summit is helpful to OpenStack’s cause.

With Havana OpenStack gets metering, app awareness, orchestration

Now back to Havana: What’s big about this release is its incorporation of new orchestration (code-named Heat), which will help make OpenStack infrastructure “more application aware,” said OpenStack Foundation’s Mark Collier. “This is user-driven addition. Companies are developing applications to be more cloud-aware and we want to do this, specifically with a templating language that will let the application tell the cloud what the app needs in storage and servers.”

Nick Barcet, VP of products at cloud and managed services provider eNovance, cited progress in OpenStack’s support of SDN and networking in general, as well as new orchestration and autoscaling functionality and multi-data center support in object storage. “These are all features our customers have been waiting for,” he said via email.

As Cloudscaling CTO Randy Bias put it, the new metering, support for rolling upgrades and ability to boot from volume are all important. But “the biggest impact of Havana stems directly from the fact that the technical meritocracy of the project and the continuous integration and testing system are working incredibly well. This is a massive project, and it’s consistently meeting its semi-annual release cadence.”

What OpenStack needs: users, users, users

Again, though, the OpenStack gang is always singing the technology’s praises. What OpenStack really needs is real-life user accounts — like Fidelity Investments — that are rolling out the cloud infrastructure and showing it’s ready for primetime. This is especially important as public cloud leader Amazon Web Services continues its push to win enterprise accounts and as VMware(s vmw) and Microsoft(s msft) push their respective non-OpenStack clouds for enterprise use.

Hong Kong photo courtesy of Flickr user Alfonso Jiménez