Now that the dust is settling down around the Citrix announcement, let’s take a step back and understand what this means from an industry perspective. Here are my takeaways:
- We have reached an inflection point in the IaaS marketplace with open source cloud offerings posing a serious challenge to closed, expensive, and propreitary systems.
- Technology vendors are realizing that Open Source software is an excellent way to collaborate, innovate and monetize on their value add (see my previous blog post on Open Source Business Models).
- Without a business model that has a significant long-term upside, Citrix would not have taken the successful revenue-generating CloudStack software and open sourced it.
Why Are Customers Adopting Open Source
What do we mean when we talk of flexibility when it comes to open source software, and why is it considered a more significant benefit than cost savings? Why is this even more important in the world of cloud services?
Flexibility is the ability to move an application from development to test to production without having to check your software licensing requirements; it is the ability to move from one server supplier to another, or from on-premise installations to cloud platforms, without having to ask permission of your software supplier.
Flexibility is using software that can be adopted and updated in conjunction with modern agile development initiatives; it is not being tied to 20th century programming languages and architectures. It is also about being able to benefit from collaborative development that builds on the skills and expertise of multiple participants. That is the reason we are seeing increased involvement in open source software by organizations that we would traditionally consider to be users, rather than developers, of software.
OpenStack is Gaining Momemtum
OpenStack has been the only community-driven, open-source, open-standards stack that is being developed from the ground-up with open API’s, scaleable distributed shared-nothing implementation model, operational best practices, delivery mechanisms, and hypervisors. This approach has the greatest potential to drive interoperability and adoption of clouds. The alternative is to be beholden to the Amazon API which is the direction that Citrix and Eucalyptus have taken.
Even the so-called AWS compatibility is nuanced as the following two blog posts demonstrate:
It’s fine to have mechanisms to move workloads and orchestrate with AWS, but I strongly believe adopting AWS API as the de-facto standard defeats the purpose of Open in the first place. In a previous post OpenStack: Will it Prevent Mono Culture, I emphasized this point:
Despite Amazon’s significant contributions, most enterprises remain wary about adopting a single vendor architecture and API as the industry standard. Customers are not ready to accept the mono cultures of the past several decades. A recurrence of the proprietary stacks and lock-in of the past are seen as a threat to the value of the cloud. In my conversations with enterprise cloud decision makers, I consistently hear the same message: customers want choices and options that can best serve their business needs. They don’t want to be offered the proverbial 800-pound guerilla’s menu of, “You can pick any color as long as it’s black.” Without a doubt, customers perceive that they will benefit if there is competition that encourages innovation and dynamism in the market, particularly at this early stage of cloud adoption.
OpenStack provides enterprises and service providers with an open source alternative (and a thriving and passionate community) to build differentiated service offerings using an open-standards based foundation. The OpenStack ecosystem is innovating and contributing a number of service capabilities including software defined networking capabilities (Quantum), authentication services (KeyStone), and others such as database-as-a-service etc. All of these are available as truly open source free offerings. The same cannot be said of CloudStack (or Eucalyptus). They charge for these kinds of features with propreitary components. Charging for “premium features” is a perfectly reasonable open source business model. All I’m pointing out is that Open Stack community model will commoditize many of these features and make them available for free.
A recent Zenoss survey on customer adoption of OpenStack reveals the following significant findings:
- 73% considering an OpenStack deployment
- The biggest drivers for considering OpenStack are Cost (47%) and Avoiding Vendor Lock-In (46%)
- The adoption curve for OpenStack is accelerating rapidly, with 40% of organizations planning to be operational within one year
- Organizations with higher levels of satisfaction with open source systems are more likely to choose OpenStack over VMware vSphere as a cloud operating system
Essex, the fifth OpenStack release, includes 150 new features and enhancements, said Jonathan Bryce, co-founder of Rackspace Cloud and chairman of the OpenStack Project Policy Board. Fifty-five companies and 200 developers contributed code to Essex, he said.To improve the stability, this time OpenStack developers left the final six weeks of the release schedule for testing. That allowed developers to make sure it’s the most stable release yet, he said.Some of that testing happened on high-volume clouds and that work was fed back into the project, helping to stabilize the software for use at scale, said Michael Crandell, CEO of RightScale. The emphasis on stability in Essex could convince architects of large cloud services — public or private — to move forward with commercial implementations.
Customers Are Speaking Up at The OpenStack Summit
As one of the early adopters in the OpenStack Community, Dell (the company I work for) has seen significant customer traction and interest in OpenStack-powered cloud solutions. Join me (Thursday April 19, 2012 1:00pm – 1:40pm @ Breakout D Bayview Level, Hyatt Regency Hotel ) with some of our customers and partners on stage to find out why they are choosing OpenStack, and what products/services they’re creating with it, including:
- Top reasons customers are adopting OpenStack and open source
- Types of customers using OpenStack today
- How customers are bringing OpenStack into their environments
- Workloads they are running on OpenStack
- What companies using OpenStack envision in the future
- Rob Hirschfeld: Application Deployment on OpenStack, Friday April 20, 2012 , 9:50 - 10:30am, Breakout C Bayview Level, Hyatt Regency Hotel
- Joseph George: Expanding the Community, Friday April 20, 2012, 11:30 - 12:10aa, Breakout A Bayview Level, Hyatt Regency Hotel
Looking forward to catching up. Drop me a note at my twitter handle: @kpemmaraju