OpenStack: Vive la revolution!

OpenStack has changed the cloud computing landscape and become the standard base for nearly every provider

InfoWorld's Eric Knorr made a good call last week, stating, "IBM would take the helm as the corporate steward of OpenStack, surpassing in importance even Rackspace -- which along with NASA gave birth to OpenStack three years ago."

Although IBM won't provide its own OpenStack-based product, it will offer piece-parts based on OpenStack. IBM's sheer size and influence will make it one of the biggest drivers of OpenStack, passing up Hewlett-Packard, Rackspace, and dozens of other smaller OpenStack upstarts. Remember how IBM was a major force in mainstreaming Linux and open source a decade ago? It has the same potential with OpenStack.

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Of course, IBM isn't the only 800-pound gorilla seeing opportunity in OpenStack. Last week Oracle acquired Nimbula, an OpenStack-based hybrid/private cloud technology provider. Most cloud market watchers, including me, believe Oracle is seeking core skills more than core technology -- in this case, OpenStack and Amazon Web Services expertise.

OpenStack officially launched on July 18, 2010, and its popularity rose quickly at larger enterprises seeking quick entry to the cloud computing market, such as HP, Dell, IBM, and now Oracle. Many small companies are also looking to OpenStack as a way to get their product to market using an existing code base. They are also providing products with more intrinsic market value based on tapping into both the OpenStack hype and its user acceptance.

You can even look at the fall -- and in some cases, the demise -- of several private cloud technology providers that predated the release of OpenStack. They did (or, more likely, could) not dial OpenStack into their product road maps, and the market pushed them aside.

There are a few reasons for the success and interest in OpenStack:

  • OpenStack promises cloud interoperability and portability.
  • OpenStack is not Amazon.com, VMware, or Microsoft.
  • OpenStack is based on "open standards."
  • OpenStack caught the interest of the big guys, including IBM and HP, that still drive enterprise IT sales.
  • OpenStack has improved greatly since 2010.

OpenStack is not perfect. Although there is a somewhat common code base for core IaaS offerings, interoperability and portability are not yet proven. Moreover, most of the vendors leveraging OpenStack, including Dell, have rightly complained that the code base is immature and needs more work before it becomes useful. Finally, there is the likelihood that larger OpenStack vendors will take it in their own proprietary directions, thus diminishing the value of its "open standards."

Still, as long as OpenStack adoption continues to grow, the technology is likely to mature to meet all those expectations -- mine included.

This article, "OpenStack: Vive la revolution!," 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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