As OpenStack garners increasing momentum across service providers, the open source community's twice-annual operating system release schedule can create interoperability challenges and complexities for CSPs.
Just as enterprises seldom buy the latest upgrade from a commercial developer, service providers, their customers and vendors can be slower to adopt the newest OpenStack release. This creates environments with multiple OpenStack instances and vendors that support a variety of OpenStack flavors.
Almost 86% of telecom respondents find OpenStack essential or important to their success, a Heavy Reading study conducted for the OpenStack Foundation found.
While each update offers "greater scalability, resiliency and enhanced user experience," according to a late October survey of OpenStack users, in September 2016 40% of respondents were still using Kilo -- released in the first half of 2015 -- and 17% continued to rely on Juno, which became available in the latter part of 2014. In fact, 9% of those polled used Icehouse (the first release of 2014), while 44% used Liberty (second half of 2015) and 16% were up to Mikata (second half of this year), the survey finds.
In OpenStack's interactive analytics database, a search of which releases telecommunications companies are using finds only measurable results in Kilo and Liberty; as Mikata gains momentum, it's likely CSPs and their partners must juggle three OpenStack versions.
OpenStack Releases in Use
As a result, implementations can take longer than expected as CSPs and vendors face unexpected interoperability challenges.
"It does not plug and play. The reason is OpenStack has different releases -- there's Liberty and Kilo and so forth -- and not all the vendors are aligned on the different releases," Dilip Pillaipakam, vice president and general manager of Service Provider Business at Infoblox, tells the New IP Agency, noting that the security vendor is up to the Liberty release. "Typically what we run into is we go into a carrier, and the carrier's on a certain release and four vendors are on different releases and, quite frankly, it's a project for a systems integrator to bring them all up onto the same release. There are many moving parts with OpenStack."
Often Tier 2 and Tier 3 operators delay OpenStack deployments, or use VMware instead, Pillaipakam says.
"Overall I'm seeing momentum for OpenStack is increasing. But in terms of overall adoption, everyone's talking about it. I see the big guys -- AT&T, Verizon -- have already deployed it, but others are saying, 'No, I'll go the VMware route.' In terms of where they want to be two, three years from now, all arrows seem to point toward OpenStack," he adds. "The industry is in a state of selling, being surprised, scrambling and then making it work in the end."
— Alison Diana, Editor, The New IP Agency. Follow her on Twitter @alisoncdiana or @The_New_IP.