At the ripe old age of 5, will OpenStack simmer down?

I don’t normally go for these year-ahead predictions by tech big wigs (remember that before you hit send) but an item on this list by Rackspace CTO John Engates struck me.

Engates wrote that as OpenStack turns five, it’s getting boring — something that Derrick Harris and I, in our very non-scientific way, have been noting on the Structure Podcast for the last few months.

It’s important to note that he doesn’t see “boring” as a bad thing. Quite the opposite. He wrote:

“When a technology matures, it becomes less and less exciting. That’s where we see OpenStack going.”

He cited a Forrester Research brief coming out of the last OpenStack Summit in Paris that referred to:

 “a lack of excitement that comes with maturity. The Juno release [of OpenStack] addressed many challenges holding back enterprise adoption to this point and showed signs that 2015 may be the year its use shifts over from mostly test and development to mainstream production deployments.”

I’m not sure I buy this entirely. There are so many companies with big vested interests in OpenStack that there is bound to be contention as they try to differentiate [company]Rackspace[/company] OpenStack from [company]HP[/company] Helion OpenStack from [company]Red Hat[/company]OpenStack, and on and on (and on) down the line.

That is why the OpenStack Foundation’s DefCore effort is important. DefCore would ensure that different functions work the same way across OpenStack distributions so OpenStack doesn’t go the way of Unix, which ended up as a splintered operating standard with [company]IBM[/company] and HP and Digital Equipment Corp. and other companies all offering their own slightly incompatible versions of the operating system. That meant the promise of vendor independence was shot and customers got burned.

I’m inclined to agree with Battery Ventures’ Adrian Cockburn’s assertion that despite all these efforts, the technology will fragment even though the OpenStack brand will be widely adopted.

So, if DefCore succeeds, the dozen or so vendors with OpenStacks of their own will make up an ecosystem of interchangeable frameworks. If it doesn’t, some of the big players will go their own separate ways. Part of this may be wishful thinking on my part: There’s nothing like chronicling the growing pains of a potentially great technology or covering a good OpenStack spat every few months to focus the mind. And face it, the upside of people fight about something, is that they actually care about it.

Note: This story was updated at 12:34 p.m. PST to correct the name of the Foundation’s effort to enforce OpenStack interoperability. It is DefCore, not CoreDef.