451 Research perspectives on OpenStack and Amazon APIs

There’s been an interesting debate on the OpenStack cloud computing project and its API compatibility with Amazon. The discussion and debate over the open source cloud software’s compatibility with cloud leader Amazon’s proprietary APIs was just beginning when the 451 Group released The OpenStack Tipping Point in April. With the advancement of the OpenStack software and community — along with lingering questions about the desired level of compatibility with Amazon’s cloud — the matter is heating up. However, the issue of Amazon cloud compatibility is largely a non-issue.

Enterprise customers are focused on solving their computing and business challenges. They typically center on promptly providing their customers and internal users and divisions with adequate resources and infrastructure; speeding application development and deployment; and avoiding so-called “Shadow IT,” which normally involves use of Amazon’s cloud. Read the full article at LinuxInsider.

I’m not the only one with an opinion around here. My 451 Research colleagues have also weighed in on the matter and 451 Research subscribers can view their argument that Amazon API compatibility may be a fool’s errand.

The OpenStack Tipping Point – new report

Since its start in the summer of 2010, the OpenStack open source cloud computing project has been the subject of a lot of hype. Today, the technology, backers and use of OpenStack are giving substance to all of that sizzle and skepticism is giving way to service provider and enterprise use cases across the globe. OpenStack is still relatively immature and still requires a high degree of technical aptitude to deploy, but its community continues to grow in both providers and users, both of which are focused on making the software easier to deploy, manage and scale.

*Coming of age
The OpenStack project itself is not even three years old, but thanks to maturing technology, growing membership and the OpenStack Foundation formed last year, OpenStack has matured to the point it is getting attention from large service provider and enterprise users, including companies in telecommunications, retail and research. Large supporters of OpenStack such as Cisco, Dell, HP, IBM and Rackspace are using OpenStack internally and also in new cloud offerings. We also see vitality in the number of startups and smaller players bringing OpenStack to the market, including Cloudscaling, eNovance, Mirantis, Morphlabs, Nebula and Piston Cloud Computing. We’ve also seen large vendors make acquisitions of key OpenStack players, such as Red Hat’s acquisition of scale-out storage specialist Gluster for $136m in October 2011, VMware’s acquisition of open source networking player Nicira for $1.26 billion in July 2012 and Oracle’s acquisition of cloud management vendor Nimbula in March 2013. We have no doubt as the OpenStack technology and market matures, it will present additional acquirers and targets along the way.

The fact that there were already open source cloud computing options in the market when OpenStack was established helped contribute to a discussion of open source software, open standards and open clouds. We expect OpenStack and other open source cloud options, such as CloudStack, Eucalyptus, Joyent and OpenNebula, will continue to co-exist in the market and will all benefit from the increased credibility they all bring to open source cloud computing. Just as different Linux distributions and different open source hypervisors have helped drive one another in the industry, we are likely to see open clouds do the same thing.

*Components mature, emerge
In addition to its foundation and growing support among vendors and implementors, OpenStack is also gaining traction because the technology of the open source project is maturing and advancing. The main OpenStack components for compute (Nova), networking (Quantum) and storage (Swift) are becoming more credible for enterprises and service providers beyond bleeding edge users. Where there are some of the biggest gaps in OpenStack, such as dashboard/UI, identity services, orchestration or metering, additional components and sub-projects are emerging. While OpenStack continues to require a good degree of technical aptitude to deploy, the OpenStack community seems to be scatching the right itches for broader enterprise and service provider use.

OpenStack users have also indicated that although the OpenStack technology may be lacking in certain features and functionality, they appreciate the ability to be part of the community that solves issues and having more control of their own IT destiny.

*OpenStack Drivers
OpenStack is being driven largely by the growing number of enterprise and service provider organizations that want to put more of their operations and offerings in the cloud. Many companies are seeking the scalability and elasticity of public clouds, but desire more control and want private clouds, where OpenStack is finding some traction. this is particularly true for continuous integration and continuous deployment or devops implementations that combine application development and IT operations for greater efficiency and speed. We are seeing two types of adoption of devops: more proactive efforts that center on speed and iteration and more reactive effors that focus on providing IT resources to developers, productivity and business units so they do not go outside the organization for public cloud, free or low-cost options, also known as ‘shadow IT.’

Other OpenStack drivers parallel the advantages we’ve seen for open source software: cost savings, flexibility and avoiding vendor lock-in. OpenStack users have also indicated it has been helpful to be able to access OpenStack source code and customize it for integration with existing infrastructure and systems. We’ve also heard from some OpenStack implementors that their developers and engineers prefer open source tools and frameworks that give more flexibility.

*OpenStack Hurdles
Despite the size and number of OpenStack supporters and vendors, the open source cloud computing software still represents a technical challenge for many organizations. Baseline features and functionality, such as metering and billing, are just now taking shape in OpenStack and while issues are being rapidly addressed, the software is not ready out of the box by an means.

Another challenge with the project and its use among more enterprises and service providers is the fact that OpenStack talent is in short supply. This is one of the biggest challenges of deploying OpenStack and while users may seek third-party help, their options are somewhat limited. This facet of OpenStack is quickly changing with more training and certification efforts in the works as well as a new OpenStack Operations Guide that was published last month.

We at 451 Research have also fielded more inquiries and questions on OpenStack. In response, we’ve published an extensive report on OpenStack available to 451 Research subscribers here.

451 CAOS Links 2011.08.31

MapR and Funambol raise funding. VMware virtually supports PostgreSQL. And more.

# MapR raised $20m series B for its Hadoop distribution from Redpoint Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners and NEA.

# Funambol raised $3m in funding from previous investors HIG Ventures, Pacven Walden Ventures and Nexit Infocom.

# VMware launched vFabric Postgres as part of vFabric Data Director database-as-a-service launch.

# Citrix released a new edition of CloudStack, making the whole cloud management product available using the GNU GPLv3.

# Yahoo has contributed 84% of Apache Hadoop lines of code and 72% of patches, according to Hortonworks’ analysis.

# Red Hat invited Red Hat Enterprise Linux users to help discuss features for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.

# Talend announced that Peter Gyenes has joined its Board of Directors.

# Mandriva announced the release of Mandriva 2011.

# The Document Foundation announced the release of version LibreOffice 3.4.3, intended for enterprise deployments.

# Zmanda announced the availability of Zmanda Cloud Backup (ZCB) 4.0.

# The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against on SCO’s appeal that it, and not Novell, owned the Unix copyrights.

# Oracle retired its licence for distributing its Java with Linux.

# Bruce Byfield wrote an interesting article on how Linus Torvalds and other open source developers avoid burnout.