OpenStack Learning Challenges – Drawing the Owl

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It’s a funny meme that we see regularly. It can be the “How to make a Turducken” or “How to make reindeer cupcakes” or some kind of before and after craft process that is made to look seemingly simple by the expert who is doing it. My example I use regularly is one called “How to draw an owl”.

draw-an-owl

The reason why this is funny and frighteningly close to home is that when we are exploring new technologies, we often have trouble getting onboard with something new. I pride myself on being able to learn new things quickly, but in almost every case there is something along the way that doesn’t work during the learning process. This can be daunting as we start down the road on a new product.

We see this happening all the time as people try to take the first steps by installing OpenStack:

OpenStack-Install-Urgh

This can be a frustrating part of the process for sure, and I see this challenge everywhere I go, both for operations teams and for development teams.

In the Current Status podcast (Episode 11) I had a chance to discuss OpenStack in general, and the focus of a lot of the content was around the importance of it along with the challenges of learning OpenStack because of the many different flavors, distributions, deployment tools, and base environments. Not only is OpenStack a fundamentally different than what many VMware and Hyper-V administrators are used to, but the ways we deploy and manage OpenStack are incredibly varied.

We had a lot of fun chatting, and touched on a lot of areas around challenges with OpenStack and adoption.

OpenStack Learning Resources

The trick with learning is to find the right way to learn that matches your style. For some, this means an in-person classroom situation. For others, it may be online videos, or perhaps one-on-one with a mentoring partner to really have a more direct teacher-student connection. Regardless of your preference, there is probably something that can help you with OpenStack. Let’s take a look at a few of them here.

OpenStack Meetups and User Groups

Meetup.com is filled with exciting technology communities that are informally supported, often vendor-agnostic, and provide a great way to connect with others who are established with a software or system that you are looking to get involved with. OpenStack Meetup groups are in nearly every city, and even if there isn’t one already, you may be able to start one where you are.

OpenStack User groups are also popping up in many cities. These are the official OpenStack supported user community meetings that help to bring more people together to

OpenStack Summit

Attending the OpenStack Summit is a phenomenal way to become very close to this community. While there may be a cost issue with attending the event depending on your situation, the great thing is that the sessions and keynote presentations are uploaded to Youtube for free viewing after the event (Paris and Atlanta).

You may also see the #vBrownbag team there delivering tech talks (Paris and Atlanta) which is another great way to consume some OpenStack goodness as the 10 minute tech talk format opens the door for many vendors and community members to share information.

Online Video Training

I would be remiss if I didn’t shamelessly plug my Pluralsight course Introduction to OpenStack and there is more in the works to be brought to this great platform. If you need help getting started with Pluralsight, I also have a number of 30-day unlimited usage trial coupons that I can share. Feel free to add a comment below and I will email you with your trial code.

As mentioned above, there is also the #vBrownbag which has an OpenStack track where we saw a great series called Couch to OpenStack where a number of contributors worked on helping folks build a small lab as we walked through what each of the programs are, and how to do some basic administration in an OpenStack environment.

Classroom and Virtual Classroom Training

At OpenStack.org/training there is also a training section which gives a list of available companies and resources for traditional classroom training. Some are aimed at certification-oriented training such as that offered by Red Hat, and you will also see distribution-agnostic content which is geared towards general OpenStack operators.

More resources are popping up every month as we see more people growing the OpenStack education community. This is a good sign of the strength of the community and the momentum that is building around OpenStack.

Books and Blogs

Another great resource you can learn with is the OpenStack Cookbook which is currently being updated to be reprinted with updates of the Juno release. Not only will you have the book as a great reference guide for building your Opebstak cloud, but you can also use the OpenStack Cookbook multi-node lab which runs using Vagrant and VirtualBox (LINK LINK). I use the cookbook as a quick way to spin up a lab, and for those who want to learn about orchestrating your OpenStack deployment, you can view the open source code right in the Github project.

The blogging ecosystem is also a great way to gain access to resources. There are really too many to list, and I wouldn’t want to leave anyone out by accident, but I suggest you do some searching and you may be surprised by how vibrant the OpenStack blogging community is.

OpenStack Growth – Why Learning About it is Important

If you are a VMware administrator, you should understand how Microsoft Hyper-V works, right? The reason is that you have not only know why your current solution works, but what comparable solution are available to deliver the best business value. As OpenStack grows and becomes a more viable option for today’s organizations, we all should embrace the learning process so that when it does become something you have to work with that you are ready for it.

While I seem like an early adopter to a lot of people, I consider myself late to the game compared to many people. The reason is that OpenStack was at the 5th release (Essex) already when I jumped in to begin my learning journey. One thing that you can see out of this though, is that there is never a time when it’s too late to begin learning about OpenStack.

People and process is the most important part of the why OpenStack is important really. While the technology is of obvious importance, the real value of OpenStack comes with what problem it is solving. Being able to create better operational practices for your organization is what it is really purpose-built for.

If you are looking for help to begin your OpenStack journey, feel free to reach out. I am happy to do anything I can to connect you with the right resources and people to make OpenStack something that is part of your toolkit.

DiscoPosse

People, Process, and Technology. Powered by Community!

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3 Comments

  • Ray Lovett
    April 7, 2015 at 7:32 am

    Great article Eric!

    What’s your opinion on using VMwares ‘VMware Integrated OpenStack’ distro as a platform for learning OpenStack?

    Thanks,
    -Ray

    • DiscoPosse
      Eric
      April 20, 2015 at 2:21 pm

      Hi Ray,

      This is a great question. I think the VMware VIO is a viable platform for sure. It will be a really powerful entry point for companies who are heavily embracing VMware at the hypervisor, and want to deploy OpenStack for better operational practices.

      I’ve seen some interesting feedback that the tool is good, and the ability to have VMware backing them on upgrades and integration. Those are some of the biggest pain points. I think there will be some sticker shock down the road on using VIO as there is potential for lots of upsell by VMware which could create a less than pleasing experience for the consumer.

      Eric

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