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May 9, 2017updated 10 May 2017 4:27pm

OpenStack Summit: Snowden, Google & the power of open source

Edward Snowden takes a pop at likes of Google and AWS for being "fundamentally disempowering."

By James Nunns

The world is relying upon technology for every wild and crazy idea, and open source is the now the accepted best practice for solving hard problems.

That’s the general message coming out of the second day at the OpenStack Summit being held in Boston.

Mark Collier, COO, OpenStack Foundation, took the reigns for the second day of the open source event, and like other open source events before it, the keynote focused on the developer and the power that open source has.

Whether it’s looking across the big data world, app management, or in cloud databases, a lot of the interesting work is being done in the open.

Take composable infrastructure for example, Collier said: “Composable means they are built to work together with other things in the system. Every one of these components is built to be dependant on, rely upon other in the stack.”

Then you you cloud native, where the projects are built with the assumption that there’d be a programmable infrastructure to rely on, which means that developers can just believe that the compute, power, and storage will already be there and taken care of so they can focus on just creating.

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While there is plenty of work being done in open source communities, there’s still the issue of complexity that OpenStack has to deal with.

This topic must be something that they are growing tired of having to focus on, it pops up every year and just doesn’t seem to be going away.

Read more: OpenStack Summit: The second generation of private cloud

Collier said: “We are living in increasingly complex times and we have to be responsible in our community to make them less complex. We are working hard to fight complexity because it really matters. Already we have seen some progress this week in The Forum – started to remove and deprecate some features that weren’t used. Have to be disciplined to make things less complex and easier to use.”

Aside from the detailing the power that OpenStack and the larger open source community has, the second day offered up plenty of demos for different technologies such as deploying Cinder as a stand-alone service using containers. The demos were hit and miss in terms of success, but they were at least popular among the audience.

The keynote also saw a number of vendors appear on stage, and as vendors tend to do, they spent time pitching their products.

Brian Stevens, CTO, Google Cloud made an appearance to talk about the company’s commitment to open source and pleased the audience by saying that Google would be publishing far less whitepapers and instead would be publishing more code.

This was really the only thing that a vendor said that appeared to resonate with the crowd. The rest of the talks were more of a back patting exercise than revealing any strategy insights.

Read more: OpenStack Summit: All the biggest news from Red Hat to Rackspace & Dell EMC

A refreshing break from the product pitching came in the form of Edward Snowdon, welcomed with rapturous applause, Snowdon praised open source and OpenStack while highlighting some of the downsides to the more proprietary based players.

Snowden said: “Google, EC2, they are fundamentally disempowering. You’re providing them with more than money, you’re giving them data, giving up influence. They aren’t going to tailor their infrastructure to your needs.

“You’re sinking costs into an infrastructure that is fundamentally not yours. OpenStack lets you lose that silence vulnerability.”

OpenStack Summit Snowden

While Snowden admits that OpenStack does require more of a tech understanding, its compliance with a free and open set of values helps to, “start to envisage a world where cloud infrastructure are not private in the sense of corporations but private in sense of the individual.”

If you ignore the vendor pitches, the OpenStack Summit keynote did a lot to give the open source cloud community heart that they are in the right place, that they can make a difference, and that they can impact the world and technology.

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