OpenStack or VMware? PayPal drama obscures real issue

Vendor bickering makes for a fun read, but it misses what matters to IT managers: How to make cloud computing work

Last week a few stories surfaced about PayPal dumping VMware in favor of OpenStack. This was part of a story outlining plans by Mirantis (an integrator implementing the OpenStack project at PayPal) to open-source pieces of OpenStack.

The assumption that PayPal was going with OpenStack over VMware turned out to be overstated and perhaps even false, according to follow-up blogs: "Mirantis CEO Adrian Ionel has since played down his comments, claiming [Mirantis consultant and OpenStack Foundation member Boris] Renski has 'exaggerated the use case' of OpenStack at PayPal and that his knowledge of the work being done there is 'limited' and 'secondhand.'" In other words, PayPal is using OpenStack but isn't doing a wholesale changeover from VMware.

[ Get all the cloud security info you need with InfoWorld's "Cloud Security Deep Dive," and stay on top of the cloud with InfoWorld's "Cloud Computing Deep Dive" special report. | From Amazon to Windows Azure, see how the elite 8 public clouds compare in InfoWorld Test Center's review. | For the latest news and happenings, subscribe to the Cloud Computing Report newsletter. ]

Lesson 1: You have to be careful about what you tell the press.

Lesson 2: You have to know what you're talking about when you do.

I typically don't talk about press-driven drama, but this episode speaks to a larger issue that matters to enterprise IT. The cloud wars have begun, so there will be more misinformation and confusion emanating from the industry and promulgated by the press. While these vendor dramas are fun to take in, they cause us to lose focus on the real issue, which is how to make cloud computing work and keep working.

More useful to know are the business requirements that led to what PayPal is building, and what each approach and technology brought to the table in its mind. The real story -- inside PayPal at least -- is not about VMware versus OpenStack, but the architectural trade-offs around improving its private and hybrid clouds.

As you move to cloud-based platforms, you'll find a complex set of business requirements and technologies. The bickering between providers won't help one bit, but unfortunately, the feuds will accelerate at the market grows. We can't stop that, so we need to get to the science. We need to move beyond the press releases and gossip.

The game of cloud computing is won and lost on getting at the right information at the right time, allowing very hard decisions to be made. Focus on that, and ignore the drama.

This article, "OpenStack or VMware? PayPal drama obscures real issue," originally appeared at Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

How to choose a low-code development platform