Superuser talks to Marton Kiss, an OpenStack Ambassador based in Budapest and general manager, Europe at Aptira.


In this series of interviews, OpenStack takes you around the world to meet our Ambassadors. These tireless volunteers act as liaisons between multiple user groups, the Foundation and the general community in their regions. Launched in 2013, the OpenStack Ambassador program aims to create a framework of community leaders to sustainably expand the reach of OpenStack around the world. More on the program and how to apply here.

Here we introduces you to Marton Kiss, our Budapest-based Ambassador and organizer of the OpenStack Day Budapest in June 2016.

He talks to Superuser about what drives (and slows) OpenStack adoption in the region, the current flow of talent and what still surprises him about deployment.

What’s the most important OpenStack debate in your region right now?

It is very hard to highlight a single challenge related to OpenStack, but software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV), container technologies and deployment/orchestration are leading the day-to-day discussions in the community. It was a huge surprise for me that we still talking about deployment questions, meanwhile simple and straightforward solutions are available if someone wants to deploy a relatively simple OpenStack cluster.

The advantage of OpenStack is that users can build customized deployments, but sometimes the operation and upgrade of those custom systems can be really challenging.

What’s the key to closing the talent gap in the OpenStack community?

The talent gap seems to be a global IT industry problem, not related to the European region only, but there are definitely some region-specific characteristics. For example, there’s a flow of talent from Eastern to Western Europe where people can enjoy the benefits of a more advanced economic environment and this effect creates a much larger talent vacuum in the Eastern European countries.

The other side of the story that learning OpenStack, devops and agile technologies can provide a better career path for students. For example, large vendors have very good ties to universities and they support a lot of community events like meetups and conferences to bring visibility for students.

To help find properly skilled people for the OpenStack ecosystem players and boost the number of contributors in upstream projects, we plan to launch the Upstream Training in the region. The Training already works well at the Summits, it provides a great overview of OpenStack and helps people make the first steps to become a project contributors.

Doing frequent Upstream Trainings is just one side of the story, I truly believe the OpenStack community must provide user-friendly tools and processes for developers and deliver a better integrated solution instead of existing fragmented toolset. (Not forgetting the huge effort that our infra team did in the last few years to operate and keep alive what we have now.) It’s also important to build more guides and training materials related to OpenStack software development.

What trends have you seen across your region’s user groups? How do these compare to the trends from the global OpenStack Summit?

The trends are very similar to U.S. ones, the only thing I experience that Europe is in "follow mode," and we experience a one-to two-year gap in technology transformation. Of course, we have exceptions — cities like Berlin, Budapest and Amsterdam already act like technology hubs and definitely have a direct connection with the Bay Area, so technology and knowledge transfer between them is faster.

What drives cloud adoption in your region?

Related technologies and methodologies like agile development, project management and devops culture are the major forces behind the cloud adoption. Of course, startup companies and research institutes are the leaders in the area, but internet service providers (ISPs) and enterprises have started to catch up.

What’s the biggest obstacle to adoption?

The technology exists and is actually available to everyone through different channels — from real open-source self-made clouds to boxed vendor provided ones. The obstacle exists in people’s minds — it’s a lot like before the previous industrial revolution. Sometimes the internal IT business units are the greatest opponents of cloud adoption, they often try to protect their own kingdoms and very slowly follow the changes. Also, European companies are very conservative, they need more time to catch up with new technologies.

What types of clouds/organizations are most active in the community and at local events, including meetups and OpenStack Days?

Large vendors, startups and the research and education sector are very active in community events and support the growth of the European community. This very diverse community produced very similar growth trends compared to the global pattern and rose more than 20 percent in just the last 6 months. In our local community, the telecommunication sector is also very active. This activity is based on two area, first of all the major winners and early adopters of the SDN/NFV innovation are the Telcos, and for example Budapest hosts research / development center for major players.

Which users have come forward in your local community to share their story and can people get involved?

Check the schedule for previous OpenStack Days to find out who represents the local community.

We are proud to be the host of a CERN datacenter here and MTA-SZTAKI (the Hungarian Academy of Sciences Institute for Computer Science and Control) are planning to switch from their previous cloud platform to OpenStack, meanwhile there’s been strong growth in software-defined storage technologies like Ceph. Docler just released an open-sourced their Ansible OpenStack Deployment scripts and made a huge contribution for the community. Local companies have several in-progress projects, and we are waiting for their public release, so I’m sure our ecosystem will be much richer within six months from now.

Cover Photo // CC BY NC

Allison Price