It’s time to go beyond viewing it as an extension of the operating system, says individual board member Boris Renski.

In this series of interviews, we’re talking to the Individual Directors on the 2016 OpenStack Board of Directors. These Directors provide oversight of the Foundation and its budget, strategy and goals. The 24-person Board is composed of eight Individual Directors elected by the Individual Members, eight directors elected by the Gold Members and eight directors appointed by the Platinum Members.

We talked to Boris Renski, co-founder and CMO at Mirantis, about why connecting with the developer community is important, accelerating adoption and his favorite current OpenStack debate.

In your candidate profile you mentioned that OpenStack needs to establish a developer story. What are the first steps?

In open source, some communities are focused on developers (Docker, Mesos, etc.) while others are focused on system administrators (Nagios, Hadoop, etc.) OpenStack is almost exclusively focused on sys admins. It’s suboptimal because sys admins generally follow the developer’s lead. Sys admin-focused projects need a tie-in with developer projects to be pulled into the mainstream. As an example, Linux pinned itself to Apache and PHP to become popular. We know that today developers love containers and Amazon Web Services (AWS.) Starting projects in OpenStack that would tie it to either of those two movements or having some of the existing container communities join the OpenStack Big Tent can be a good step in the right direction.   
 

You wrote: “The role of every individual on the board must be to educate the infrastructure ecosystem on what OpenStack is and why it is disruptive.” What’s the best way to do this?

When computers first appeared, we needed something that would enable users and applications to interact with its parts like motherboard, hard drive, CPU, etc. An operating system like Linux solved that problem. Today, applications are built to run in the datacenter, not on a computer. With it, the original concept of an operating system becomes a commodity building block of a data center, akin to a CPU of yesterday. The modern concept of an operating system and, consequently, the center of gravity in IT has shifted from a piece of software that glues together the parts of a single computer to software that glues together the parts of a data center. Common preconceived notions, however, force many to view OpenStack as merely an extension of an operating system. At Mirantis, we view OpenStack as the kernel of the data center and, as such, data center components like hypervisors or software-define network (SDN) controllers are an extension of OpenStack and not the other way around.        
 

You’ve been around since the very beginning – what will success look like for OpenStack five years from now?

When an enterprise starts using AWS, the AWS footprint spread like wild fire. In contrast, when we started with OpenStack at Mirantis five years ago, it was a real challenge to keep customers. OpenStack was too early. Feature parity was nowhere close to alternative solutions and the return on investment simply wasn’t there. Today, keeping and growing the customers is easier, but we are still nowhere close to the "AWS wild fire" scenario. I like to think of this in terms of time to go from 0-60 nodes for a customer (because of the car analogy). AWS today has a pretty fast 0-60. I want OpenStack to be able to go 0-60 as fast as AWS in five years.      
 

What are you looking forward to most at the next Summit?

It’s the same things for me, every Summit. I look forward to hearing OpenStack user stories and attending after-Summit parties where people dish all the industry gossip. Also, I’m looking forward to that moment when I am done with my keynote — going on stage in front of 7,000 people is pretty scary =).  
 

What’s your favorite OpenStack debate right now?

It’s the "AWS has won, OpenStack is for NFV" debacle that made the headlines recently. I don’t see OpenStack ever battling AWS. Amazon helped define the cloud and is leading cloud disruption. OpenStack has emerged as the winner in the open source cloud competition between OpenStack, CloudStack and Eucalyptus. That competition would not have existed if it wasn’t for AWS. Looking forward though, I believe we are still at the beginning of the journey. AWS is $8 billion in revenue, but disrupting $300 billion datacenter infrastructure software and hardware market. The bigger it becomes, the bigger the market for OpenStack. 

In this series of interviews, we’re talking to the Individual Directors on the 2016 OpenStack Board of Directors. These Directors provide oversight of the Foundation and its budget, strategy and goals. The 24-person Board is composed of eight Individual Directors elected by the Individual Members, eight directors elected by the Gold Members and eight directors appointed by the Platinum Members.

Cover Photo // CC BY NC