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The factors that have driven OpenStack momentum

The rise of OpenStack is in part due to its community-driven nature.

Momentum for OpenStack has been steadily building over the past few years, as companies push for building solutions based on collaboration and transparency. OpenStack has also benefited from the support of major technology companies and developers in recent months. As InfoWorld reported, the launch of Red Hat Distribution OpenStack and Project Savanna – a Hadoop deployment platform – were featured at the OpenStack summit. These movements signal rapidly growing interest in OpenStack while creating more options for companies looking to build solutions powered by the technology. 

The open philosophy in general has driven many technology initiatives, from software development to data center design. However, as ReadWrite contributor Matt Asay recently noted, OpenStack has become one of the world's largest open source communities. Asay also analyzed some of the reasons it has achieved the success it has:

A wide breadth of contribution
While the platform began in 2010, Asay noted that OpenStack didn't start gaining traction in the industry until 2012. This is partially due to the fact that RackSpace contributed the majority of the code to build a solid foundation for the platform. However, other IT players have since become prominent contributors, giving the technology the benefit of a wider breadth of expertise. In addition, the creation of the OpenStack Foundation pushed the philosophy of collaboration further, and the platform now benefits from more than 1,000 code authors.

"While OpenStack always offered great promise, it wasn't until Rackspace let go of the wheel that the project really exploded," Asay wrote. "This isn't to suggest that Rackspace's stewardship was somehow bad, but rather that moving to a foundation made the project more inviting."

The OpenStack community is also strengthened by the fact that it's easy to become a contributor. According to Andy Grimm, operations support engineer for Red Hat, OpenStack's selection of Apache v2 gives it the most developer-friendly license out there and its reliance on Python makes it an accessible platform for programmers.

The community's collaborative efforts have been focused on solving core business challenges. As Asay noted, some argument could be made that OpenStack simply emerged at the right time or benefited from good marketing. However, it is not likely to have garnered so much support without a focus on delivering meaningful solutions and addressing key issues such as vendor lock-in. 

Open source leading innovation
The technology's foundation in open principles should not be ignored either. Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst argued last month that open source solutions play a leading role in driving innovation for businesses, ZDNet reported. He noted that solutions such as big data and software-defined storage have been largely fueled by open technology.

Whitehurst noted that OpenStack is not the first attempt to design open cloud infrastructure. However, its momentum and the development of standards have given it greater influence in the technology industry.

"Open source is how innovation is happening. Open source started off making copies of other things, but now it's leading." Whitehurst told ZDNet. He continued, "the new stuff is happening in open source."

While not every cloud provider has to build their infrastructure on an open platform, the industry's focus on open source means that it can be beneficial to consider the underlying principles that make such technology successful in the first place. For example, transparency has become a prominent issue as cloud buyers demand oversight of their implemented solutions. This is likely to increase demand for customer support in relation to cloud services, giving an edge to vendors that work closely with their customers to determine the best solution for a company's unique needs.