PayPal's 'rip and replace' of VMware for OpenStack much ado about nothing

Information remains spotty, but cloud war appears averted, as all involved companies downplay original story

For the past week, a story reported on Business Insider and other publications has caused quite a stir with its statements that PayPal -- and perhaps even its parent company eBay -- is "ditching" VMware in favor of OpenStack. Some media outlets reported that 80,000 servers at PayPal were getting an overhaul with OpenStack technology rather than remaining with VMware.

But since the initial story broke, we've seen some backpedaling on those earlier claims. PayPal representatives are supposedly now saying the company has no intention of "replacing" its VMware software with OpenStack technology. It's also been pointed out that PayPal doesn't even have 80,000 virtualized servers to migrate. Now, according to Business Insider, the original claims from Mirantis, the consultancy company involved in this "migration project," have been downplayed by that company's CEO. What's really going on?

[ Also on InfoWorld: Keep an eye out for changes in VMware's public cloud strategy. | Oracle makes a quiet acquisition of cloud software startup Nimbula. | Track the latest trends in virtualization in InfoWorld's Virtualization Report newsletter. ]

In the original news item there was an underlying assumption that VMware and OpenStack do the same things. The story made it sound as if a customer, in this case PayPal, could choose one technology over the other. Is that really the case?

In fact, PayPal could adopt OpenStack for its cloud technology rather than using VMware's vCloud. In doing so, it could still make use of VMware's virtualization flagship product, the ESX hypervisor software. OpenStack doesn't have its own hypervisor but instead works with a number of hypervisor technologies such as Xen, KVM, Microsoft Hyper-V, and yes, VMware vSphere. VMware made sure its ESX workloads would continue to operate within an OpenStack cloud environment well into the future by joining and becoming a board member of the OpenStack Foundation last fall.

In a VMware company blog post last Wednesday, VMware's senior vice president of cloud infrastructure, Bogomil Balkansky, did his best impression of a Jedi knight trying to convince readers that this story did not contain "the droids we were looking for" and we should all be allowed to "move along" and go about our normal business. In trying to take away some of the initial sting and downplay the original story, Balkansky stated, "Our relationship with eBay and PayPal is a partnership we're proud of, and a great example of the role VMware plays in both typical customer environments and in a bleeding-edge cloud development initiative."

VMware further weighed in against the original news item by publishing a quote from Nat Rajesh Natarajan, VP of Platform Engineering & Operations at PayPal:

PayPal is focused on delivering agile platforms that seamlessly scale across multiple cloud environments. Our initiative with OpenStack is intended to enable agility, innovation and choice. We're not interested in a "rip and replace" approach. In fact, this collaboration will help us utilize robust virtualization technologies such as VMware. They are a valued PayPal partner, and we intend to continue leveraging their core strengths in our cutting edge cloud environment.

Balkansky went on: "Yes, PayPal has given us permission to post Nat's words. We'd never speak on their behalf... this is their story to tell."

But PayPal has yet to address this story on its own real estate. I suppose in a way, we're still waiting for PayPal to really "tell this story" itself.

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