OpenStack under fire: The critics aren't all wrong

Gartner's Alessandro Perilli has made some outrageous statements about OpenStack. Could he be right?

When others make strong statements about cloud computing technology, the bloggers swarm in and argue the point. I'm certainly not innocent of making provocative statements about the cloud computing market. Having set off a few of these blog wars myself, it's not often that I let myself be drawn into the arguments.

The latest instance is a blog post entitled "Why vendors can't sell OpenStack to enterprises." Alessandro Perilli, a Gartner research director, describes how he came away from the recent OpenStack summit thinking, "In fact, for the largest part, vendors don't know how to articulate the OpenStack story to win enterprises. They simply don't know how to sell it."

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For Perilli, a few core issues lead to OpenStack's marketing problems, including:

  • Lack of clarity about what OpenStack does and does not do
  • Lack of transparency about the business model around OpenStack
  • Lack of vision and long-term differentiation
  • Lack of pragmatism

Of course, the vendors selling OpenStack had kittens, including Bryan Che of Red Hat -- asĀ major an OpenStack vendor as there could be -- who responded on his own blog to Perilli's points. He notes that "open source projects are not the same as products" and goes on to tout how Red Hat's OpenStack implementation is meant to be "an answer to that issue."

I tend to agree with Che. You can't consider OpenStack a product, albeit both the tech press and analysts seem to see it that way. Enterprises often tell me they use "OpenStack" for their private cloud, always talking about the brand and not the standard. The market confuses it as a product because OpenStack promotes itself as a standard that doubles as product.

Still, Perilli's assessment of OpenStack has some truth to it -- specifically, the lack of vision and pragmatism. OpenStack has underwhelmed me in terms of momentum and number of implementations. However, the last release seems solid, and those that sell OpenStack-based clouds seem committed to the standard. Although there is less growth than promised, there has been progress.

OpenStack won't be a "big boom" standard. Instead, it will see systemic growth over time. And I'm sure there will be some huge failures to report. That said, the market needs a private cloud standard for enterprises that is cost-effective and meets core enterprise private cloud requirements. If not OpenStack, then what?

This article, "OpenStack under fire: The critics aren't all wrong," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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