This unofficial keynote talk from Randy Bias, vice president of technology at EMC, is always worth hearing. Here’s his take on what’s working in OpenStack, what’s broken and how to fix it.

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Randy Bias likes to call them as he sees them.

The vice president of technology at EMC delivered another hard-hitting "State of the Stack" talk at the OpenStack Summit Vancouver. With a rat-a-tat-tat delivery — by his own admission he was on a "rant-and-roll" — Bias finished ahead of the time allotted, hitting the packed room with a ton of timely ideas.

These are some select nuggets — you can also mosey through his slide deck or check out the 30-minute talk here.

The good

Bias ran through current numbers – companies, active contributors, commits – to give participants an idea of what winning looks like for OpenStack now, calling it the fastest-growing open source community.

"OpenStack is closing in on vSphere as a Google search trend I mean, wow!"

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"That there are as many people in OpenStack groups as in AWS on Linkedin for OpenStack is impressive."

The bad

"There are so many projects…If you’re new, you look at this and you’re gonna say ‘where do I start?’"

"There’s a spaghetti ball of interdependence of nearly 30 projects…OpenStack risks collapsing under its own weight."

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Bias recognized that product working groups and the "big tent" release cycle have helped — but asserts that it’s not enough.

"Docker is dead simple, and that’s why people have adopted it much faster. Three million downloads in first quarter 2014 and 100 million downloads by the end of 2014. That’s a crazy ramp."

"If we want OpenStack to be successful, we need to make it simpler. Right now there’s a big gap between DevStack and what you need to do to run on 10 machines."

How to fix it

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On the roller-coaster of new technology adoption, Bias sees OpenStack "heading towards the trough of disillusionment. This is where people start to give up hope and start to walk away from it. If we don’t take care and we don’t think about what people need to be successful, we might derail."

Bias is running his own user survey and while he admits that it is not as scientific as it could be – respondents are mostly self-selected from his Twitter followers – there were some useful insights.

"Draw a line around OpenStack and tell me what it is. You can’t. We should chop it up. We should have flavors of OpenStack."

His five-point plan? Streamlining the governance model, allowing competition (both projects and multiple programming languages,) conform to well-known APIs, testable reference architecture and ruthless simplification.

"OpenStack projects should be interrelated instead of interdependent."

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"It would be good for us to make new mistakes…The door is already cracked open. I’d like it fully open, but I’ll take what I can get."

Cover Photo by Steve Gill // CC BY NC