What Happens Next As OpenStack's Hype Bubble Bursts?

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OpenStack, the cloud-building technology that won concerted industry backing to challenge proprietary virtualization vendors like VMware, and public cloud operators like AWS, is now fighting for survival in a brutal and rapidly evolving IT market.

Boosters and critics agree that early exuberance around the project has given way to questions of long-term relevance in the face of rapid public cloud maturation.

"As far as the excitement around OpenStack that was present two, three years ago, that's done," Boris Renski, a founder of Mirantis, the largest pure-play OpenStack vendor in the industry, told CRN.

[Related: The Great OpenStack Debate: A Powerful Platform That Will Revolutionize The Data Center? Or A Dud?]

Now that the hype has evaporated, what remains is a highly capable technology looking for a suitable deployment model and market niche, said Renski, a director on the board of the OpenStack Foundation, the organization that guides the project.

A joint effort launched seven years ago by Rackspace Hosting and NASA, OpenStack shot to prominence with the promise of a robust, comprehensive cloud technology supported by a vibrant corporate community building its many interconnected components. But critics say the sprawling nature of the project, and diverse interests of its contributors cooled actual market enthusiasm.

Looking back, many in the OpenStack community peg the six months between the Austin OpenStack Summit of April 2016 and the following conference in Barcelona as the period in which a hype bubble, inflating for years around the open source cloud technology, finally burst.

The Texas-sized enthusiasm that characterized Austin gave way to a subdued affair the following October in Spain, Renski said.

Vendors like Mirantis have since recalibrated their strategies to capitalize on the inherent benefits of OpenStack while mitigating the deficiencies that leveled the adoption curve.

First, they're trying to ease delivery of the notoriously difficult system, recognizing operational challenges sidelined many enterprise OpenStack initiatives and prevented early proof of concepts from converting to production deployments.

Companies including Mirantis, Cisco, Rackspace, and Canonical, as well as a recent crop of startups like Platform9 and ZeroStack, are promoting a new paradigm: call it Managed OpenStack or OpenStack-as-a-Service.

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