Two new editions of OpenStack hint at how vendors are trying to bring in customers by alleviating OpenStack's common pain points: installation, upgrades, and maintenance. But the larger question of when those problems can be solved for all OpenStack users, not only those of a given distribution, remains open.
First of the two releases is version 3.5 of Piston Cloud Computing's OpenStack distribution. Piston OpenStack is probably not meant to distinguish itself by leveraging the most recent edition of OpenStack (Icehouse), but rather through commercial add-ons like support for Intel Trusted Execution Technology and Piston's own rolling-upgrade service. The latter now provides "both online and near-line upgrades," akin to what Red Hat has touted with the most recent version of its OpenStack distro as well. (Upgrading an existing OpenStack instance has in the past been a touch-and-go process.)
The other company, Mirantis, is pushing simplicity by offering OpenStack as a service: the 2.0 edition of its Mirantis OpenStack Express product. The original version of OpenStack Express was a clever idea: Host OpenStack on bare metal by way of Softlayer, offer a predictable pricing structure, and outfit it with management and ease-of-use features. Version 2.0 not only brings Mirantis' version of OpenStack up to date, but also streamlines the setup process to a minimal Web form and adds templates to allow quick ways to create high-availability configurations.
Piston and Mirantis are both OpenStack veterans, relatively speaking. Piston emerged in 2012, billing itself as a provider of an easier-to-install edition of OpenStack, and a stabler one, built built on an earlier, more thoroughly vetted version of OpenStack (Diablo instead of the then-more-current Essex). Successive releases were billed, rather boldly, as a workable alternative to depending on Amazon Web Services, along with the company's partnership with EMC VMware. By contrast, Mirantis has been adamant in the past about not diluting OpenStack with proprietary components, so its value-add with the current edition OpenStack Express is around services to make setup and management easier.
But OpenStack users are still waiting on some sense of how the underlying product can be made easier to work with on its own terms, sans third-party assistance. Until that happens, this aspect of the strategy for OpenStack vendors -- selling people a better setup and management experience -- will remain the same. Canonical's BootStack, for instance, recently emerged as another managed solution, albeit with pricing that's more opaque than Mirantis' offering.
With the next version of OpenStack due in October, it'll be worth seeing if the current crop of commercial OpenStack and OpenStack-as-a-service products share equal footing and enjoy common solutions to the problems they address, or if they're left once again to supply answers on their own.
This story, "Piston and Mirantis release dueling OpenStack upgrades," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.