I wanted to take some time and make sure that I clarified my position on Openstack. Rackspace and NASA announced this open source project back in July of 2010. Openstack is a cloud manager for private or public clouds. Openstack positions itself as an alternative to vCloud and through 3rd hosting provider party an (potentially) open standards alternative to Amazon’s AWS.
So, I was quoted in a GigaOM article that I felt Openstack and by proxy Rackspace may be little late to the cloud manager game. The jest of some of the posts was that this is still a relatively new market and there is plenty of time for new competition. I don’t totally agree with the full statement. I do believe that we are early in the market but I don’t agree that there’s plenty of time for competition.
My primary point – If a customer wanted to roll a cloud today what are their options? Rackspace has offered Cloud based services for a long time. One of their challenges has always been their lack of API into their IaaS based solutions. That’s one of the reasons why they decided to sponsor Openstack. And they now offer their Openstack Cloud in limited availability. One of the main strengths of AWS includes the API’s. There’s obviously some great scalable applications built on the Amazon cloud which has been in production since 2002. Zynga is a great use case for AWS and use of the AWS API to build a hybrid cloud. So, past performance is a critical consideration to overcome for enterprise customers considering Openstack.
Building a cloud manager is hard work. Cloud managers are extremely complex orchestration systems that are part data center automation, CRM and accounting systems. I guess you can think of them as ERP for the cloud. So, I’m not saying that the Openstack development crew is taking too long to deliver their solution; I’m saying the project may have been kicked off too late.
When I talk to customers today about public clouds, I’m constantly asked about AWS in addition to other solutions I put before them. In my non-technical customers AWS already has a huge part of their mind share when they think public cloud. When I talk to the today about private cloud strategies they and we talk Openstack they ask me who has it in production today? How does it extend to hybrid models today? I believe Openstack will have a great story to tell some months from now. But that’s the challenge. It’s not vaporware the code is out there to download and install and jump start a cloud development project. But if you want a production ready solution now…. vCloud, Abiquo, NetIQ, Dell, Eculyptus are all out there waiting for you. I don’t believe AWS is too late for private cloud but public cloud is looking like a one horse race today.
So, today what are end user options for cloud? What companies come directly to mind when asked the question? Is it too late for the Openstack consortium?