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By | Chris Mellor 15th November 2011 14:47

Rackspace: OpenStack beds Disney, NASA, Sony

VMware not invited to cloud love shack

The OpenStack cloud operating system is emerging as the main alternative to VMware because of its frenetic pace of development. So says Rackspace, OpenStack backer and internet hosting giant.

OpenStack is an open-source cloud operating system platform that manages pools of virtualised server, storage and network resources for cloud-style data centres. It runs on commodity hardware with intelligence up the stack in the software layer.

The Swift part of it transforms cheap JBOD storage into object storage.

Scott Sanchez, Rackspace's business development director, spoke at a press briefing in San Francisco today and he reckons the sheer pace of development is one of the main reasons for OpenStack's vibrancy: "We're moving at a pace with OpenStack that no other effort matches because of the size of the community ... "We have far surpassed everything else that's out their in terms of pace."

Sanchez mentioned several major user corporations that are using OpenStack, including Disney, NASA, PayPal and Sony – for its PlayStation cloud, saying VCE (VMware) had been rejected by these companies in favour of OpenStack.

There have been over 60,000 downloads of the platform and, as evidence of its far-flung popularity, 500 people showed up at an OpenStack event in China recently.

He said he thinks the blazing pace of innovation will continue for another two to three years.

The VMware crusher?

Christopher MacGown, CTO for Piston Cloud Computing, an OpenStack developer, said: "The two main players are VMware and OpenStack and if you are between them you are crushed."

Sanchez also positions 15 month-old OpenStack as the second jaw of a vice formed with VMware, squeezing most other cloud operating systems into oblivion. He said: "When OpenStack started people thought VMware would crush it. It didn't."

It's as if the OpenStack community is saying: "VMware is the 1 per cent. We are the 99 per cent. Let's occupy the data centre."

What strikes me is that the open-source community has created operating systems, web servers, hypervisors, and is now running full-time and full tilt into the cloud. It's a greenfield site with a proprietary colossus in the making in the form of VMware, and it's where open source coders can make a difference. So they are rushing in.

Supplier OpenStack activity

Mainstream storage suppliers are quietly aiming to get better acquainted and, in many cases involved, with OpenStack, even though it should have a commoditising effect on the storage hardware underneath it.

We hear:

  • NetApp is fully behind OpenStack and writing volume drivers for it.
  • Caringo has added an OpenStak interface to its CAStor object storage software so that it can replace Swift. CEO Mark Goros says Swift is not enterprise-ready whereas CAStor is.
  • Scality, another object storage supplier, has an OpenStack API in its Ring offering.
  • VCE, the EMC/VMware/Cisco troika making Vblocks, was at the most recent OpenStack meeting.
  • EMC has been present at OpenStack events but has not announced anything. We might expect sone kind of OpenStack connector for Atmos perhaps.
  • Cisco is very involved.
  • The VMware Cloud Foundry is being worked on to run with OpenStack.
  • IBM has been present at OpenStack design conferences but not made any announcement.
  • HP is building a 5,000 server cloud based on OpenStack and has 35 people working on OpenStack.
  • Dell is building an OpenStack-based public cloud.
  • Citrix will fold Cloud.com into OpenStack and will probably have an offering in 2013.

NetApp attended three meetings before it started contributing code and it still hasn't publicly committed to OpenStack.

RackSpace is heavily involved because it sees business potential in supporting OpenStack and so gaining a revenue base outside its own hosting centres. Sanchez said: 'As well as reselling resources in our data centre, we want to expand the fanatical support we provide outside our them. That's how we'll make money ... We want to run clouds and OpenStack lets us do this outside our data centres."

Red Hat

Although SuSE and Ubuntu are involved with OpenStack, open-source leader and stalwart Red Hat is not. We understand Red Hat has its own unique cloud strategy with its OpenShift platform that competes with VMware's VFoundry and, according to Sanchez, "is not open."

Red Hat has been to OpenStack meetings and individual Red Hat employees have contributed code.

The impression given is that OpenStack is unstoppable and that the open-source community, sans Red Hat, is united around it. If the picture of the OpenStack VMware vize is true, then Red Hat's own cloud O/S efforts are going to get squeezed into insignificance, which will be a joy to irony lovers – the premier open-sourcer getting given a dose of its own open source to choke on. ®

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