Ah, Paris. While seemingly the rest of the tech world was in the City of Lights for the OpenStack Summit, a smaller and more intimate event took place the week prior: Open World Forum.

The Forum is a two-day event in the heart of Paris dedicated to exploring all things open. And I do mean all: open software, open hardware, open data… the concept of open writ large and on display in a cozy little venue near the Arc de Triomphe.

Small, intimate, cozy… you may be sensing a theme here. But the smaller size of Open World Forum actually works in the event's favor. This was a chance for students, developers, and business people to come together and share what they know. There wasn't a lot of overt excitement (these are the French after all, and they tend to be cool), but there was a sense of earnestness in the air in the sessions and hallways of this venue.

My own discussion on containers and virtualization was in much the same vein. The audience for the presentation was attentive and full of questions, and this, for me, was one of the best interactive discussions I have had to date.

The topic was broad: Project Atomic was at the heart of it, but the theme was more around the inevitable clash between hype and reality. This time, the clash is between the shiny newness of containers and the relative oldness of virtualization. "Old" is funny. A few years hardly classifies as old, but the constant drive of the hype cycle has left many in IT wondering exactly where the real answers to their problems lie. Managers and developers are just getting their heads wrapped around the usefulness of virtual machines, and now here comes containers as the Best Solution Ever.

The question for developers and administrators to answer is: What do they really need? Before grabbing the latest and greatest tool, whether it be a virtual machine manager platform like oVirt, cloud computing management with RDO, or container management with Project Atomic, IT departments must figure out the value impact of any technology decision. More specifically, every decision should be measured to the value delivered to the customer.

That is the real question to when tackling any IT problem: How will the customer and end user benefit from the change you will be making? Figure that out, and hype won't influence your decisions as much. Value will.