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How OpenStack should prepare itself for the enterprise

Bernard Golden | April 23, 2013
With major vendors such as Dell, HP, IBM and RackSpace throwing their weight behind OpenStack, the project is poised to be a preeminent private cloud player. But discussions at the recent OpenStack Summit show that the project does have some growing up to do before it gets there.

Last week's OpenStack Summit left me with some strong impressions, along with some questions and reservations. The bottom line: If you're an enterprise CIO, OpenStack is going to be very important to your future.

First, in terms of overall energy and tone, the Summit reminded me of last November's Amazon Web Services AWS Re:invent conference. Both conferences exuded the unmistakable sense of, to quote Charlie Sheen, "Winning."

The OpenStack Summit had more than 2,500 attendees, with large contingents from Rackspace, Dell, Hewlett-Packard and IBM. There were even a few end-user types sprinkled among the attendees. All seemed ebullient about OpenStack and in no doubt that it represents the future.

Based on the sessions I attended and conversations I took part in, here are my takeaways from the Summit:

Game Over for Private Cloud?

The most striking takeaway from the Summit is the depth of commitment to OpenStack on the part of the large systems companies. Dell, HP and IBM all seem to defining OpenStack as their choice for cloud orchestration.

IBM presented a session on upcoming products that are all standards-based, including OpenStack and the TOSCA cloud management standard. As far as I can tell, IBM says OpenStack will be its favored orchestration product going forward.

Now, IBM is a canny company that, better than any other, has figured out how to use open source to make money-and, just as importantly, how to use open source to compete with others. To me, this announcement indicates that IBM has concluded that cloud orchestration is going to be a commodity product, it will leverage OpenStack to achieve commodity economics and it will look to other layers in the stack-and hardware as well, no doubt-for revenue and profits.

Dell and HP have both suffered from customer (and analyst) confusion about their primary cloud strategy. Both have had a bit of a smorgasbord approach in the past, offering multiple products from different vendors to (quite understandably) befuddled customers. From what I saw and heard at the Summit, both have fastened on OpenStack as their primary orchestration product and cloud strategy foundation going forward.

With the three largest systems companies choosing OpenStack as their orchestration vehicle, it raises the question: What's going to happen to the other contenders for IT private clouds?

My interpretation of what the companies were saying at the Summit is that their main recommendation to users will be to implement OpenStack. This obviously excludes VMware's vCloud, although crucially-and no doubt to the relief of IT organizations that have large investments in VMware's ESX-it does not exclude VMware's hypervisor. OpenStack can (at least theoretically) run on ESX. I would expect to see greater priority in the future placed on certifying OpenStack on ESX.

 

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