I just came back from the OpenStack Summit 2015 in Vancouver and have finally caught my breath, so I can share some insights from this important event. It was incredible to bear witness to the continued growth of the OpenStack community in general and this event in particular. I still remember the very early summits when this industry was in its infancy. Back then, it seemed that most of the attendees were engineers conducting design sessions. This past week was gratifying to see how many real customers and actual OpenStack users were at the show. I would even go so far as to say they constituted the majority of the attendees.

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Cumulus Networks co-founder and CTO Nolan Leake talks with visitors at the Cumulus Networks booth.

OpenStack Users Love Cumulus Networks

Cumulus Networks was very much present throughout the show — in our booth, in our partners’ booths, in panel sessions and, apparently, in the minds of many of the attendees. Cumulus Linux was seen as a universal network OS underlay for a variety of architectures. In addition to the sessions featuring our co-founder and CTO Nolan Leake, it was exciting to hear Cumulus Networks mentioned in many of the sessions I attended by end users like Adobe. Just being able to attend multiple sessions and live tweet my experiences was a great deal of fun.

However, the most memorable moment for me was a discussion with an influential industry analyst who told me that during their private analyst sessions, half of the OpenStack users they heard from were running Cumulus Linux, while the other half used Cisco. It’s very exciting to hear that customers are speaking to analysts about their use of our product and technology. It’s indicative of the traction we’re seeing within the OpenStack community.

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Jonathan LaCour from DreamHost said that Cumulus Networks changed the game for them, being both open and vendor supported.

Of course, it helped that Cumulus was everywhere at the show! Some of the companies that highlighted Cumulus Linux at the event included Akanda, Cloudbase Solutions, Dell, Mirantis, PLUMgrid and VMware.

The Gentleman Doth Protest too Much, Methinks

In the background, Cisco announced its Q3 earnings, and outgoing CEO John Chambers continued his retirement media blitz. One of the key themes during his interviews and analyst call was his insistence that “white box” — the use of commodity hardware for networking — is dead. Really? If it’s dead, why does he keep repeating it? The simple fact is that “white box” is rapidly becoming Cisco’s biggest competitor and will remain so for the foreseeable future. And to be fair, this is about far more than just “white box” — we’re taking about an entire ecosystem where customers have choice at every layer of the stack. So, while “white box” might be dead in Chambers’ world, the open networking model continues to grow and gain share. Long live open networking!

Looking Back, Leaning Forward

What an amazing path we have walked over the past 18 months since we started shipping Cumulus Linux. OpenStack and Cumulus Networks have grown together from infancy to deliver mature, enterprise-grade software, a vibrant ecosystem of solutions working together, and multiple go-to-market options that make open networking a reality for customers.

Thank you to the organizing team of the OpenStack Summit for having another great show in a great location. Your work is fueling change in the industry, unlocking a lot of value for customers! I loved Vancouver and will be sure to visit again in the near future.