Allison Price
March 2, 2016

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 introduce you to Ambassador Marcelo Dieder, an IT security coordinator at GetNet who is based in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

He talks to Superuser about the next wave of cloud migration, cost cutting and local adoption.

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

In South America, OpenStack is being discussed in several companies and following the wave of the growing migration of local environments for public and private clouds. The unfavorable economic situation affecting some countries of South America brings up the discussion to reduce costs, and therefore many companies are analyzing OpenStack as an ideal solution for better utilization of resources, interoperability with several manufacturers, and speed service delivery. The discussion is very strong in knowing the migration process from proprietary solutions and local environments in clouds paid for on-premise environment using OpenStack.

The use of OpenStack in South America (and especially in Brazil) is small when compared with North America and Asia. However, the Brazilian community grew over 100 percent in 2015! It was the year that more users came into our group and also more companies began to use OpenStack to support the business model in cloud. I believe that the next two years (2016 and 2017) will be the best years for OpenStack in South America.

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

The gap to find qualified professionals is global and occurs in many areas of IT - not just in the OpenStack community. We can see job vacancies for months where companies are unable to find the right professional. I see OpenStack as a great opportunity for IT professionals to get into a new market where heterogeneous knowledge of various IT technologies is very important. Of course, the major economic centers in Latin America, such as São Paulo/Brazil and Buenos Aires/Argentina attract much of the professionals who work with OpenStack. The work carried out by user groups, even away from the big centers is of great importance to attract new professionals and to keep these professionals updated with OpenStack news.

In 2015 in Brazil, we organized at least one online hangout every month, and we always had growth in the participation of new professionals interested in learning more about the project. Perhaps there is no silver bullet for this gap, but surely the solution is supporting the user groups from all regions of the world - work performed by all leaders of Openstack User groups, by the Foundation and by Ambassadors.

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

Companies in Latin America are still a bit backward when compared with companies in other continents such as Europe, Asia and North America. Most companies here are still in a proof-of-concept process with OpenStack - some already with OpenStack in production. At the same time there is the advantage of a large market yet to be explored.

There is great interest in the companies in new technologies like software-defined networking, containers (Docker and Kubernetes) and decentralized storage services. We also see some discussions about the process workflow and cloud governance to provide different virtual environments in an integrated manner, but respecting one validating process of several other teams - such as security teams.

What drives cloud adoption in your region?

Recent studies show that the cost savings and speed in creating new environments are largely responsible for the use of cloud by companies in Latin America. Businesses need more agility, providing new environments within hours. They can't wait days for new environments to be made available. Furthermore, the investment in data centers and misuse of these environments has shown that the cloud can be a viable alternative.

What’s the biggest obstacle to adoption?

The companies already know that the cloud enables much more agility and innovation, but are still wary if the cloud will be a better alternative for cost reduction. For example, companies in Brazil prefer local representatives who can assist in projects and OpenStack support, and I think this is the great challenge to the growth of OpenStack here.

If we increase the technical and business events and seek more companies and local representatives, it will certainly help in the growth of OpenStack in companies of South America. I think the OpenStack will also grow at the pace of cloud strategy of companies, what is expected in two years, according to leading market research institutes.

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

In Brazil, much of the support is from private companies such as internet service providers and hardware manufacturers, universities and sometimes government enterprises. However, much support in Latin America is carried out voluntarily by the community.

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

A large part of the users who excel in our community are already working effectively with OpenStack. In each hangout / meetup held in Brazil, we invite a professional with specialization in an area of the OpenStack (developer or operator). In Brazil, we have a great use case - the Universidade Federal de Campina Grande (University of Campina Grande) which has a large number of professionals who work on developing OpenStack. Currently, the University of Campina Grande has most the contributions by a university recorded in Stackalytics.