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Sriram Subramanian, founder CEO of consultancy CloudDon, organized OpenStack Days
Sriram Subramanian, founder CEO of consultancy CloudDon, organized OpenStack Days (GeekWire photo/Dan Richman).

More than 200 IT professionals — mainly administrators, developer and executives — turned out today for the sold-out OpenStack Days in Seattle, the second annual gathering for those interested in using or helping create what conference organizers call an open-source private cloud. Attendance is up compared to the inaugural event in Seattle last year, which had 175 attendees. Similar events are held in other cities too, including a major OpenStack conference in Barcelona late next month.

“OpenStack as a project is now six years old, and it’s gathering steam,” said Sriram Subramanian, the founder and CEO of Seattle consultancy CloudDon and the Seattle event’s organizer. “OpenStack is being built out or used by more than 2,000 developers in more than 140 countries by more than 400 companies, including half the Fortune 100.”

Walmart, AT&T, China Mobile, eBay, Volkswagon and CERN are all OpenStack users, though some also make use of the public cloud, Subramanian said.

OpenStack doesn’t create a cloud in the conventional sense of services rented over the internet but owned and managed by others. Rather, it lets organizations create a more flexible, expandable infrastructure of their own, on their own machines, in their own data centers.

“The IT organization is the cloud service provider, and the user is the developers within that organization,” Subramanian said. “It’s a cloud in the sense that it is elastic. If there’s more need, you can expand it; if there’s less need you can reduce it. So there’s more cost-effectiveness. The way you consume may be the same, but the way it’s enabled is different.”  Another advantage is that OpenStack provides a single set of APIs for controlling compute, storage, networking and monitoring, he said.

OpenStack was spun out of NASA in 2010. It’s governed by a foundation that’s based in Austin, Texas, and was founded in 2012. The project’s major challenge has always been that it’s difficult to get up and running, Subramanian said. But “right now that’s surmountable,” he said.

Two challenges it’s now facing are how to more fully embrace containers, which are so much in vogue today; and helping prospective customers decide whether a private cloud is appropriate for them. For startups, for example, the private cloud may not be a good idea, because it requires a large capital outlay.

Local companies attending today’s event include AT&T, Costco, Getty Images, Impinj and Tableau, Subramanian said. “There’s definitely an interest” among them in understanding OpenStack, he said.

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