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Technologies to watch 2013: OpenStack cloud backers hope 2013 is the year of user adoption

Brandon Butler | Jan. 3, 2013
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.

To make money these vendors need to be selling products though. Rackspace seems the most mature in its OpenStack powered cloud. As one of the original founding members of OpenStack, the company has continued to be a leader in the project and now is one of the first to roll out new features added to the OpenStack code in its commercial offering. HP has made its public cloud generally available, while Red Hat, Dell, IBM and a variety of smaller companies like Nimbula - which is founded by OpenStack pioneer Chris Kemp - are all expected to make major OpenStack product news in 2013.

In addition to this ecosystem of vendors and users coalescing around OpenStack, the project's code continues to mature as well. Twice a year, OpenStack holds a design summit in which more than a thousand developers, users, vendors and cloud-watchers gather to discuss the latest trends in OpenStack and plan for the project's next bi-annual release. The latest Folsom release added a virtual networking component named Quantum, which was developed by software defined networking company Nicira, now owned by VMware. The project's Grizzly release, the seventh code release since it was founded in 2010, is expected in April 2013, with another code release slated for late 2013. Recent reports have hinted that identity and access management, as well as supporting multiple cloud platforms from OpenStack's management portal could be in the works for the Grizzly release.

There are some concerns for this project though. Perhaps chief among them is a perception by some that it is simply a marketing project by some of these big-name vendors and that users have not been drawn to the project as fast as the vendors. Staten, the analyst, says it is early enough in the project's development that adoption can still take off.

Another vulnerability could be more mature offerings on the market. VMware, for example, has an extremely mature and widely-used public and private cloud platforms in vSphere and vCloud Director. Microsoft is looking to do the same with its combination of Windows Server 2012 and its Azure public cloud platform. And then there's Amazon Web Services. Can OpenStack-backed service providers bite into AWS's market share and will users trust a still-developing open source project compared to Amazon's massively scalable cloud? Perhaps 2013 will be the year when answers to some of these questions will become clearer.

 

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