OpenStack Daddy Chris C Kemp says it's like Linux in 1996

Rough around the edges, not sure why it exists but ripe for innovation and productisation

Chris C Kemp on stage a CeBIT Australia
Chris C Kemp on stage at CeBIT Australia. He rebutted the Ballmer quote vigorously.

Chris C Kemp, the former NASA CIO credited with originating OpenStack, has predicted stacks-in-a-box that make the cloud platform more accessible and easier to use aren't far off.

Speaking at CeBIT Australia, Kemp responded to a Register question about OpenStack usability by saying “in 1996 Linux was no fun either, but it provided a lot of value.” That value, and the fact the platform was open, led to innovation and the more polished Linuxes available and widely-used today.

Kemp reckons that cycle will repeat for OpenStack.

“Openstack is not a product, it is a collection of projects designed to be productised,” he said. The companies making that effort today, he said, are focusing on large-scale opportunities.

That's because “all new open source and proprietary software has rough edges because they are trying to figure out what problem they solve and where it fits.”

OpenStack clearly fits into the place NASA designed it to fit – hyperscale operations – but Kemp thinks the market is trying to figure out where else to give it a run.

“In the next couple of years you will see packaged appliances become more pervasive,” Kemp said, as various players try to take OpenStack downmarket and into more easily-adopted forms.

“Customer participation drives the change that customers want,” he said, and with not many users deploying OpenStack to date there's therefore not much impetus for change or innovation.

Kemp's speech at CeBIT Australia focussed on open source software, which he thinks wins because it promotes innovation but also because it is best-suited to the software-as-a-service age. As software goes from being something one buys to something one consumes, it makes more sense to make it open, he argues. Kemp's reasoning is that software helps to create value for its users, so the more folks can contribute to it, the more value is able to be derived. His own experience at OpenStack fuels that thinking: Kemp reckons the small team who created the cloud platform at NASA could never have taken it to the heights it scaled tomorrow.

He also mentioned that, in some measure, Microsoft and Google must be given some credit for OpenStack's success, as both funded the Nebula Project that saw the stack created. Kemp smiled broadly when he mentioned the irony of the project's genesis. ®

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