Three important things you missed in 2016 that will shape the coming year.

We’re all anxious to put 2016 to bed, but before we kick off 2017, it’s worth recognizing some OpenStack stories that flew under the radar last year. There were some pretty significant shifts in the community that will have a big impact on 2017, so it’s important to have context.

1. User Committee stands tall

It’s not worth diving into the weeds of open-source governance, but suffice it to say there are three main branches of OpenStack: the Board of Directors, Technical Committee and User Committee, each of which have various working groups and teams attached to them. This in itself is pretty unique among open-source communities, because users have strong representation and a seat at the table.

There are currently three appointed User Committee members who represent a broad set of organizations and use cases: Edgar Magana from Workday, Shilla Saebi from Comcast and Jon Proulx from MIT. They oversee more than 10 working groups focused on various initiatives from large-scale deployments to scientific research, host monthly open meetings, oversee the bi-annual user survey and participate in a pretty active mailing list to help coordinate the different activities.

In December, the Board of Directors approved a new charter for the User Committee that will bring even greater stature and weight in the community. Moving forward, the User Committee will be a fully elected body with five seats instead of three appointed seats. The electorate is comprised of Active User Contributors or “AUC” — a newly defined group of folks who have not necessarily contributed code, but are recognized for equally important contributions, such as moderating the Q&A forum or running an operator’s working session at the Summit.

It’s easy to focus on vendor news around OpenStack, but many onlookers don’t realize the importance of a strong and active user community, represented at the highest level by an elected User Committee, not just a puffy advisory group.  We’ll hit a very important milestone early 2017 with our first User Committee election — so stay tuned and vote if you are an AUC!

2. IPv6 support arrives

Just kidding. OpenStack has supported IPv6 since the Grizzly release in April 2013 — really back to the Essex and Folsom releases in 2012, but that was more of a preview — when engineers from NTT Data contributed their expertise and code. It has been utilized by many organizations like Comcast, who have been running OpenStack at scale for years.

This October at re:invent, AWS announced IPv6 support across their services as a major new capability, and it left some folks in the OpenStack community scratching their heads. Amazon is certainly an innovation machine, but it’s a telling example of how innovation happening in the OpenStack community can be overlooked. Through the power of open source and global collaboration, we had IPv6 experts engaged early and were on the bleeding edge of this movement.

It’s relevant because in 2017 we’ll be laser-focused on exposing and attracting innovation to the community, as well as collaborating with important open source technologies outside the community like Kubernetes, Cloud Foundry, OPNFV, etc.

3. Recent headlines: there’s more to the story

The OpenStack community was hit by headlines late in the year about HPE layoffs and Cisco shutting down Intercloud. It’s been frustrating not to see the full story emerge, including many significant technology players who are rising and investing more in the community.

HPE has made some pretty significant changes in their business strategy, effectively exiting the software development side, but they are certainly not abandoning OpenStack. HPE actually struck a deal with SUSE, in which the established Linux vendor acquired many of its OpenStack and Cloud Foundry assets, including many of the important individuals and OpenStack contributors affected by the layoffs. And SUSE continues to hire and grow as it has become a strong player in the OpenStack ecosystem. This part of the story was missed when the HPE news leaked initially, which had an unfortunate impact around the perception of OpenStack. I absolutely feel for the individuals affected by the layoffs and we’re sensitive to the impacts upstream, but ultimately the number of OpenStack distributions are consolidating six years in, and that’s OK and even healthy for users.

Similarly while Cisco did kill Intercloud, that was a relatively narrow view of their OpenStack investment, and I don’t believe it was ever fully understood by the market. Intercloud was more of a channel strategy. For example the product team had not applied to be an “OpenStack Powered” solution (which requires interoperability testing), and there were no Intercloud-powered clouds listed in the OpenStack marketplace. It’s important to note Cisco acquired Metacloud a little more than two years ago, and their private cloud business has since been quite active. And of course Cisco is very involved on the NFV and networking front, which is a massive growth area for OpenStack.

The OpenStack landscape is changing, but there’s a lot more to the story than some of the scary headlines you may have seen, and there’s a lot to be excited about in 2017. China Mobile, literally the largest mobile carrier in the world, was approved as a Gold Member in October and is rolling out OpenStack across dozens of data centers. Chinese startups like 99cloud, EasyStack and UnitedStack are working with companies like major banks and the State Grid, the largest power company in the world, to roll out OpenStack in multiple regions. Red Hat pointed to OpenStack as part of its growth in 2016, referencing a survey that OpenStack production deployments more than doubled this year, and is a major player behind NFV support in the community. There are also emerging startups and public cloud players such as City Network, who offer OpenStack as-a-service in seven data centers around the world, while established players like OVH and Internap are expanding and hiring.

Bonus: Women of OpenStack increase

One thing I was particularly proud of this year is the number of incredible women we put on the keynote stage, especially during the OpenStack Summit Barcelona. Anni Lai from Huawei, an influential member of the Board of Directors, gave an inspiring keynote about OpenStack growth and potential, especially in China. Ildiko Vancsa, Ifat Afek and Heather Kirksey helped demonstrate the collaboration between OpenStack and OPNFV to achieve greater network reliability for telco operators. Dr. Rosie Bolton talked about the Square Kilometer Array and how computing will impact the potential of scientific research over the next few decades. Elizabeth Joseph, long-time core contributor to the OpenStack Infrastructure team demonstrated adding new cloud resources to their testing pool in a live demo. Madhura Makasky, co-founder of Platform 9, talked about using OpenStack Horizon as a multi-cloud dashboard with a live demo. Alejandra Flores and I talked about the first OpenStack App Hackathon in Latin America. And several other women participated in the live Interop Challenge…for a total of 12 speakers on the keynote stage across two days…pretty impressive!

We still struggle to increase the percentage of women who attend the OpenStack Summits and events, but we will continue to invest and think it’s incredibly important.

In a community as large and active as OpenStack, it’s inevitable that some things will fly under the radar. For me, these were some of the biggest missed stories of 2016.

What else do you think we’re missing? Let us know in the comments or fire off a tweet to @OpenStack.

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