After reading a recent interview with Eucalyptus CEO Marten Mickos, I'm beginning to reconsider my views on the contest between Eucalyptus and OpenStack becoming the dominant open source cloud platform.
The vendor attention around OpenStack of late has been nothing short of amazing. Once a project controlled by Rackspace, vendors such as Dell, Citrix Systms, and Hewlett-Packard have joined the OpenStack open source community. Rackspace has given control of the project to the OpenStack foundation, apparently at the behest of large vendors contributing to the project. However, as Mickos states, OpenStack is still a work in progress and not production-ready -- yet.
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A tale of two open source values
Like many people, I'd assumed that the community around OpenStack gave it the critical mass required for OpenStack to become the leading open source cloud platform. I'm questioning that assumption now.
To explain why, let's look back at two leading open source projects: the Linux project and the Apache HTTP Server. I use "Linux project" in the broadest sense, including the Linux kernel and the various open source packages that round out a typical Linux distribution.
History has shown that when an open source project is dealing with a valuable layer of the software stack, that project has tended to be controlled by a single vendor that can directly make money from the project. (The term "value" represents the differentiation that can be monetized.) Although multiple implementations or distributions may result from the project, a single vendor becomes the dominant provider in the space. For Linux, that's Red Hat with its Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) products. In the open source database space, MySQL fits this model.