OpenStack’s adoption by business users has created an opportunity for devs, architects, sysadmins and engineers to pay the rent by working on free software–and there’s plenty of open seats at the table.
OpenStack has seen rapid growth since its beginnings in 2010, when 75 developers gathered to contribute to the project, to 2016, where more than 59,110 community members and 20 million lines of code. OpenStack’s maturity has been praised by analysts like Forrester, who say that, “OpenStack meets the needs of production workloads and is ready to enable CIOs in tackling the strategic requirements of their business.”
Part of OpenStack’s success is its adoption by business users—whether offering services that run atop OpenStack, using OpenStack to power key internal operations, or a blend of both. While OpenStack’s license doesn’t require contributions back to the code, the vast majority of companies understand the importance of participating in OpenStack’s development, and employ positions across the stack to do just that. Even the companies that aren’t able to contribute code spend time participating in community events and IRC chats.
If you’re not already working on OpenStack, finding your first OpenStack job can feel daunting. In our four-part series, we’ll start by taking a step back and discuss why you might want to work on OpenStack, debunk some common myths about OpenStack and its ecosystem, talk about navigating the OpenStack community, and share resources for getting you started as a professional Stacker.
Why you might want to work on OpenStack
The OpenStack ecosystem has seen steady growth that’s only anticipated to climb. When we say “ecosystem,” we’re referring to the vendors, enterprises, service providers and training partners whose products directly or indirectly touch OpenStack. Whether it’s these organizations or OpenStack end users, they all need OpenStack talent.
A 451 report “expects total OpenStack-related revenue to exceed $2.4 billion by 2017,” nearly triple the 2014 valuation.  This growth isn’t limited to a particular geographic region, which makes for an internationally vibrant community, as well as a globe of opportunities.
It’s powering amazing things
You don’t have to look hard to find an OpenStack user; Walmart, Cisco, the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, GMO Internet, NTT, Time Warner Cable, NeCTAR and China Mobile represent just a small slice of OpenStack users. Retail, finance, healthcare, scientific research and media segments are all leveraging OpenStack to solve their organization-specific challenges.
For Betfair, the world’s largest Internet betting exchange, OpenStack was the solution to support their 2.7 billion daily API calls and 120 million daily transactions. At CERN, OpenStack allows them to provide data from the Large Hadron Collider out to more than 11,000 users around 150 sites worldwide, while securely changing permission access for an average of 200 individuals each month. KakaoTalk is a South Korean VoIP app that turned to OpenStack to keep the region connected through a set up that involves more than 5,000 virtual machines.
A day in the life means working on free software
“OpenStack has done an amazing job of proving that companies can stick whole teams of hackers on a free software project, without it being counter to their core business principles,” says Jeremy Stanley, an infrastructure engineer with the OpenStack Foundation and member of both OpenStack’s Infra and Vulnerability Management Teams. For an OpenStack professional, a day in the life includes not only working on using this software to solve organization-specific problems, but getting to share best practices and new ideas with the community as you encounter them.
The demand for OpenStack professionals is increasing just as quickly as the ecosystem is growing. According to Indeed, the number of OpenStack job listings doubled in 2015. And since OpenStack is not a proprietary solution, skills learned and experienced developed are transferable anywhere within the ecosystem, making it a “highly transferrable specialty”—a rarity in career fields.
Now you have questions
How do I become an OpenStack contributor? When do the releases come out? How do I find out about community events? If there’s a question you’re dying to know, you can tweet us at @OpenStack.
The OpenStack Summit is the most important gathering of IT leaders, telco operators, cloud administrators, app developers and OpenStack contributors building the future of cloud computing. Hear business cases and operational experience directly from users, learn about new products in the ecosystem and build your skills at OpenStack Summit, Oct. 25-28, 2016, in Barcelona, Spain. Register Now!
Want to learn the basics of OpenStack? Take the new, free online course from The Linux Foundation and EdX. Register now!
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