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vCloud vs. OpenStack: Battle lines for enterprise cloud

By Kyle Hilgendorf | May 31, 2011 | 2 Comments

VMwarevCloudOpenStackCloudCitrixIaaSPrivate Cloud

Citrix’s Project Olympus announcement last week at Synergy regarding commercial support for OpenStack officially signaled the beginning of an intriguing battle for the attention of enterprise cloud computing environments.

VMware is the industry behemoth in the data center with the vast market share of server virtualization business.  Their vCloud initiative over the past 2 years has been trying to retain enterprise clients by offering a private, hybrid, and public cloud thread that binds things together.  Very few options existed for enterprise clients unless those clients wanted to venture away from VMware, try something on their own, or bleed the edge with innovative cloud service providers.

The OpenStack announcement, driven by Citrix, RackSpace, and Dell is the counter argument to vCloud, and it has support from many companies.  But which route will enterprises take?

I hear from many clients the growing concerns about staying 100% all-in with VMware and about the cost of VMware.  Gartner advises clients to keep options open, yet at the same time, VMware has a proven track record, credibility, and the simplest migration story thus far.  If we can be sure of anything, VMware-VMware will work well.

OpenStack looks to be the open source alternative.  If OpenStack makes it easy to migrate and interoperate between vSphere in the data center and OpenStack, then I believe “game on”.  I have no doubt that will be a major focus and those involved have a vested interest to make it work well.  Further evidence is that OpenStack supports vSphere as a back-end hypervisor and Citrix even wrote the integrations.

But, are too many companies involved in OpenStack?  At what point does “groupthink” cripple innovation?  Today everyone is excited, developing, partnering, and innovating.  When will greedy hands start to mess things up?  When will OpenStack “forks” develop and will we find ourselves in interoperability hell?  Individual companies have a hard enough time providing backwards and forwards compatibility with their own products.  How will a conglomerate of companies fare any better?  Count me optimistically skeptical.  I am hopeful, but very cautious.  Will we see variants of OpenStack all over the place, similar to the state of Linux today?  Will Citrix be the thread that holds it all together?

The world appears to be out to get VMware right now.  That’s business. Kings of the hill are always the target, just ask Microsoft.  Is OpenStack the legitimate threat?  I am excited to watch this battle take place and am anxious to see how it unfolds.  How do you think it will transpire?

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  • As a neutral third party (full disclose I work for a large System Integrator) I think Eucalyptus is the more viable open source alternative to VMware today. While OpenStack has a great story Eucalyptus actually has working software and real deployments. We have looked at both in our lab, and while Eucalyptus can be difficult to install at least the SW works… OpenStack is all slideware today, you cannot stand it up in a lab to test, much less in a POC or real world deployment. Even Rackspace has admitted that it will be the end of the year at best before they have OpenStack up and running.

    I feel like all I hear about OpenStack is from people who read press releases and get excited, but seem to forget that while press releases are easy, real world IaaS deployments are tough.

    Just my $.02


  • I think you are bringing up an important point. There is a risk of group think around a big project like OpenStack. One thing to keep in mind is that OpenStack has 2 parts: the API and the Implementation. While the implementation may fork, I hope we can stay on the same page with the API.