Just don’t call it the Silicon Desert: Ben Silverman tells us what’s on the rise in Phoenix…


In this series of interviews, Superuser takes you around the world to meet our newest user groups. These busy groups act as liaisons between the Foundation and the general community in their regions. You can find out more about a group in your area — or how to start one — at the User Groups portal.

Here we talk to Ben Silverman, principle cloud architect at OnX Enterprise Solutions, about the User Group in Phoenix, whose Aug 24 event features Kubernetes-as-a-service on Plaform 9.

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

In general we’re seeing less discussion about the maturity and stability of the platform and more discussion about operations and application development tooling.

The most heated of the latest debate topics is centered around Kubernetes, Docker and how they fit into application development as well as the services underlying OpenStack. Users are also having discussions around hybrid and multi-cloud operational topics such as cloud management platforms and aligning development pipelines of both OpenStack and public cloud platforms to minimize process differences. Debates around tooling, monitoring and governance are also very common.

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

I really think it’s simply getting additional talented technical resources exposure to production OpenStack clouds. I am encouraged by the number of new COA certifications I see and I have heard that OpenStack training remains very popular. The customers I work with, which include most of the large service providers, are all currently looking for experienced talent. Lately I’ve seen a lot of requests with Kubernetes, Docker and intimate knowledge of the core services that underlay OpenStack as well as an increase in demand for OpenStack Engineers that know Ansible, Chef, Puppet and/or Python who can create automation for post-configuration of OpenStack infrastructure as well as operational site reliability engineering.

What trends have you seen in your user group and within your region? And how do these compare to the trends from the global OpenStack Summit?

We now have a community of some very experienced operators from companies like PayPal, American Express, Wells Fargo Bank, CSAA (AAA) and others. At the same time, we get a lot of new faces from small companies to large enterprises at the meetups who are simply coming to learn the basics. I think we’re seeing the evolution of the early adopters into savvy operators and new users who see the early adopters as a testament to the stability and maturity of the platform. I find that attendees from the global summit are more equally dispersed than we see here in Phoenix. One reason may be the amount of early adopters we have locally versus the distribution nationally.

What drives cloud adoption in your region?

There is a lot of development happening in The Silicon Desert (as Phoenix has been called) and OpenStack is the logical choice when companies are looking for open solutions for private clouds. Additionally, some of the larger enterprises in the valley are well into their journey of agile development and have either decided that a multi-cloud approach fits them best, or have embarked on a single public cloud strategy only to realize the cost was greater than expected and have adopted OpenStack to help balance their strategic and financial goals.

What’s the biggest obstacle to adoption?

OpenStack still has the stigma of being complicated to install, operate and requires lots of hard to find resources. I find that this unfair stigma drives companies to an all-in public cloud strategy who are then faced with the reality that migrating applications to public cloud is not as easy nor as inexpensive as it appears.

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

We have a lot of operators like the ones I mentioned above and more at our events. These companies run large and small clouds that service use cases like web scale, internal IT needs, development and NFV. We also get some great support and sponsorship from companies like NetApp, Red Hat and OnX Enterprise Services. We’ve had speakers and collaboration from RackSpace, Juniper, Talligent, Zabbix and countless others.

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

Our members have been very involved in our local user group. It’s always great to see them time and time again and hear their updates and challenges. We also have a surprising large SMB group of attendees from local hospitals, casinos and other local businesses who are simply interested in the technology.


Superuser is always interested in hearing from the community. Want to tell us about your user group? Email editorATopenstack.org


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