Should App Developers care about OpenStack?

Will Havana break the Ice with Application Developers?

OpenStack Havana release is out. I realize that the term developer needs to be properly qualified. I am trying to draw the distinction from an OpenStack developer, which usually means a contributor to the OpenStack infrastructure in this context. An Application developer would leverage the OpenStack platform.  Whereas OpenStack is the life and blood of an OpenStack developer, does the Application developer even care about OpenStack?

The Application Developer has been at the center of the “App economy”, which was spurred by the increasing use of Apps on a smartphone and the “API economy”, which is being driven by the huge amounts of data being produced and consumed as web services. Both these economies have grown by leaps and bounds. Large enterprises have jumped on the bandwagon to be able to meet the demands of the consumers. With OpenStack the Application developer has remained in the periphery (so far).

There are definitely signs of OpenStack becoming more developer friendly with the Havana release. The Heat project, which includes AutoScaling, is aimed squarely at application development. Project Neutron provides many services, like Load Balancing, Firewalls and so on. Project Trove, which is a Database as a Service, Project Marconi, which is a Queuing service and Project Savanna, which is intended for Big Data processing are all incubated in the Icehouse release.

Does IaaS matter to Joe Developer?

Before my life as a Racker and OpenStacker, I was an application developer myself. I developed in Java/Java EE. I attended my first OpenStack summit at Portland and although I was very impressed by the phenomenal growth of the community and the participation of enterprise companies, the sessions I attended did not quite hit home the value proposition of OpenStack to an app developer. I needed something more than the argument that developers should care about IaaS since they don’t need to wait for days or weeks for IT to be able to standup their development, testing or production environments.

I decided to be proactive and rounded up some stalwarts from the OpenStack community who were also at similar crossroads and submitted a panel for the OpenStack summit at Hong Kong that got accepted. 

Let your voices be heard, ask the tough questions and act!

Should Developers care about OpenStack? Does the community need to grow to millions or is it fine where it is? Can it cross the chasm with respect to app developer adoption? What is the killer app. for OpenStack? Does OpenStack need an app. marketplace? What can the community do to entice more developers? Or should it?

These are some of the many questions I have heard frequently. I don’t believe that all of these questions will be answered in the panel, but hopefully it will spur some action from everyone in the community going forward. If you’re attending the summit, there will be ample opportunities to get some answers from the panelists. If you’re not at the summit and still care about OpenStack and the developer, tweet (@ragss) or email the question to me for possible use during the panel or in the future. Links to the slides are here.

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