The OpenStack Board of Directors met this week and on the agenda was a somewhat surprising action item: Vote on whether or not to accept VMware - once thought to be a competitor to the project - into the increasingly popular who's-who club of cloud computing.
VMware's going to have to wait to see if they'll join the party though.
The OpenStack Board met Tuesday evening but didn't get around to considering VMware's application. VMware may now have to wait for OpenStack's next regularly scheduled board meeting, which is not until Oct. 19. There is a chance the board would reconvene in a special meeting before then, but there are no official plans to do so.
Some expect VMware to be a significant contributor to two areas of OpenStack, including virtual networking - which is being led by engineers from Nicira, which VMware bought - and integration of OpenStack with VMware's Cloud Foundry platform as a service (PaaS) tool. The elephant in the room is whether VMware will work to further integrate its ESX hypervisor into the OpenStack project. Doing so could make it easier for VMware users to access non-VMware public clouds, undercutting the vCloud ecosystem that VMware has been developing.
VMware's Matthew Lodge, vice president of cloud services, doesn't quite see it that way. The company's application to join OpenStack is about a simple goal: serving customers. Rackspace and AT&T - both major OpenStack contributors - are VMware and Nicira customers, and he notes that the company will continue to support both Nicira and Cloud Foundry integrations with OpenStack. As for increased ESX support, he says that will depend. "It's an area where we may do more work in the future," he says.
Ben Kepes, an industry analyst and blogger at Diversity, Ltd., says he gets the sense that VMware joining OpenStack is a residual benefit of its $1.2 billion acquisition of Nicira just a few months ago. "Anything more substantial would be a shocking move," he says.
Just how shocking? Lodge wrote a blogpost describing OpenStack, along with other open source projects CloudStack and Eucalyptus as the "three ugly sisters." Lodge says that was because open source companies were claiming to be more "open" than everyone else. Lodge says VMware has always embraced open source, dating back to its acquisition of SpringSource and the Rabbit MQ messaging service, along with Cloud Foundry. Earlier this year VMware purchased DynamicOps, which helps customers provision multi-cloud environments. Nicira's ability to work across multiple hypervisors points to this approach as well. But Kepes says VMware fully embracing OpenStack, and supporting ESX in the project would be a bigger shift for the company. "We've seen acquisitions, we've seen talk, but we haven't seen true actions," he says.
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