In the cloud computing market, there are a handful of major vendors. Most agree Amazon Web Services is a market leader on the infrastructure as a service (IaaS) side, but Microsoft, Google and younger companies like Joyent are looking to dethrone AWS. And then there's OpenStack, which is for almost everyone else.
An open source cloud management platform for public or private clouds, OpenStack has spent the last two and a half years building up an impressive resume of companies that have singed on as backers. From HP, Dell, Cisco, IBM, Rackspace and others have all hitched their wagons to OpenStack. Now, the question for 2013, experts say, is seeing if customer adoption of the platform rises to the same level of interest that the vendors have showed in embracing the technology.
Vendors are taking different approaches to their involvement in OpenStack. Some, like Rackspace and HP, have built their public cloud computing product based on OpenStack code; Dell has committed to doing this strategy as well. Others, like Linux distribution companies Red Hat, Canonical and SUSE, are all each working on their own supported distributions of OpenStack code in 2013 for end users to build private clouds. These moves are expected to extend the user base of OpenStack beyond the initial use cases already seen in the market.
The promise of OpenStack is to provide an open source cloud platform that both end users and service providers can use that will give Amazon Web Services a run for its money. OpenStack backers say having a common cloud platform like OpenStack that powers both internal private clouds for users, as well as the public clouds from service providers will foster an ecosystem where customers will have the freedom to move their applications and workloads between their public and private clouds, and across to multiple vendors. The project is not quite there yet, though. Some, such as Gartner's Lydia Leong caution users to not expect such lofty expectations. She argues that interoperability between public and private OpenStack clouds is not inherent, for example.
But, the fact is OpenStack is growing. At the project's last summit in the fall of 2012, officials said that since the project launched it has expanded from 30,000 lines of code to now more than 600,000. More than 600 developers are working on the project, with more than 400 contributing to it within the last year.
2013 will be an important year for OpenStack, says Forrester cloud analyst James Staten. The vendor community for OpenStack has basically been ironed out; everyone knows who's in and who's out. Now, these vendors are going from planning their OpenStack strategies to executing them, and specifically looking for customer adoption. "There are a lot of companies that have committed to OpenStack but they're not making money on it yet," Staten says.
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