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OpenStack grows up: But is it grown up enough for enterprise IT?

Brandon Butler | April 11, 2013
Less than a year ago the cool thing for IT vendors to do was jump on the OpenStack bandwagon.

That vision of an OpenStack-based hybrid cloud isn't quite yet reality today, but it's getting there. So far Rackspace and HP are the two big public cloud providers that have used OpenStack as the basis for their offerings, but Dell has promised to launch an OpenStack cloud of its own later this year as well. As more providers roll out OpenStack-powered products and services, this vision will become more realistic, says David Linthicum, senior vice president at consultancy Cloud Technology Partners.

One thing that is not lacking in the OpenStack movement is momentum and hype. "They need to turn the interest into many more enterprise users, and that's only going to come with time," Linthicum says. "The next two years will be critical."

Vendors make their play

In an effort to change the perception that OpenStack is not yet ready for end users to adopt, a central theme expected to be hammered home during next week's summit will be the user stories. On the OpenStack web site, there are already user stories from companies like PayPal, Intel, Cisco and Mercado Libre - the eBay of Latin America. These companies are some of the leading technology companies in the world though, they're not necessarily run-of-the-mill enterprises that have deployed OpenStack.

OpenStack vendors say they're working with more and more of those regular old enterprise customers though. CloudScaling, which has its own OpenStack-powered cloud platform, announced UbiSoft and Living Social as new customers its working with, for example.

Piston Cloud Computing Co., whose CTO Josh McKenty is on the OpenStack Foundation board of directors, says many of his customers are jumping ship from Amazon Web Services and looking to spin up private clouds behind their own firewalls that have the look and feel of a public IaaS cloud like AWS's. Both Piston and CloudScaling have new versions of their software for building clouds being released this month in preview of the Grizzly summit.

Other vendors are taking a different approach to packaging OpenStack. One of the more closely watched companies related to the OpenStack movement has been Nebula, whose founder and CEO, Chris Kemp served as CTO of IT at NASA where OpenStack's compute component was born. Instead of a software distribution, Nebula has created a software-hardware combination that Kemp says can be plugged in, switched on and an OpenStack-powered IaaS cloud is up and running within minutes. A turn-key OpenStack solution has not been available on the market that is, he says, until now.

The different approaches by Nebula, Piston and HP show the wide range of use cases OpenStack member companies have taken with the project thus far.

Some companies, like Piston, CloudScaling, as well as others like SUSE and Canonical, have taken the OpenStack code and massaged it into a distribution that is sold as a pre-packaged software stack users can deploy. On the opposite side of the coin are vendors who are using OpenStack as the basis for their public cloud platform; companies like HP, Rackspace, and soon Dell, fit this bill.

 

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