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.

Got open source cloud storage? Red Hat buys Gluster

Red Hat’s $136m acquisition of open source storage vendor Gluster marks Red Hat’s biggest buy since JBoss and starts the fourth quarter with a very intersting deal. The acquisition is definitely good for Red Hat since it bolsters its Cloud Forms IaaS and OpenShift PaaS technology and strategy with storage, which is often the starting point for enterprise and service provider cloud computing deployments. The acquisition also gives Red Hat another weapon in its fight against VMware, Microsoft and others, including OpenStack, of which Gluster is a member (more on that further down). The deal is also good for Gluster given the sizeable price Red Hat is paying for the provider of open source, software-based, scale-out storage for unstructured data and also as validation of both open source and software in today’s IT and cloud computing storage.

This is exactly the kind of disruption we’ve been seeing and expecting as Linux vendors compete with new rivals in virtualization, cloud computing and different layers of the stack, including storage (VMware, Microsoft, OpenStack, Oracle, Amazon and others), as covered in our recent special report, The Changing Linux Landscape.

While the deal makes perfect sense for both Red Hat and for Gluster, it also has implications for the white hot open source cloud computing project OpenStack. There was no mention of OpenStack in Red Hat’s FAQ on the deal, but there was a reference to ongoing support for Gluster partners, of which there are many fellow OpenStack members. OpenStack was also highlighted among Gluster’s key open standards participation along with the Linux Foundation and Red Hat-led Open Virtualization Alliance oriented around KVM. Sources at both Gluster and Red Hat, which point to OpenStack support being bundled into Red Hat’s coming Fedora 16, also reiterated to me Red Hat is indeed planning to continue involvement with OpenStack around the Gluster technologies. I suspect Red Hat is looking to leverage Gluster more for its own purposes than for OpenStack’s, but I must also acknowledge Red Hat’s understanding of the value of openness, community and compatibility. Taking that idea a step further, Gluster may represent a way that Red Hat can integrate with and tap into the OpenStack community by blending it with its own community around Fedora, RHEL, JBoss, RHEV and Cloud Forms and OpenShift.

The deal also leads many to wonder whether or what may be next for Red Hat in terms of acquisition. We’ve long thought database and data management technologies were areas where we might see Red Hat building out. This was also the subject of renewed rumors recently, and we believe it might still be an attractive piece for Red Hat given the open source opportunities and targets around NoSQL technologies such as Apache Hadoop distributed data management framework and Cassandra distributed database management software. We’ve also believed systems management to be a potential place for Red Hat to further expand. Given its need to largely stay within open source, we would expect targets in this area to include GroundWork Open Source, which joins Linux and Windows systmes in its monitorig and management, and Zenoss, which works with Cisco and Red Hat rival VMware in monitoring and managing systems with its open source software. Another potential target that would increase Red Hat’s depth in open source virtualization and cloud computing is Convirture, which might also be an avenue for Red Hat to reach out to midmarket and SMB customers and channel players. Red Hat was among the non-OpenStack members we listed as potential acquirers when considering the M&A possibilities (451 subscribers) out of OpenStack.

Given its recent quarterly earnings report and topping the $1 billion annual revenue mark, Red Hat seems again to be bucking the bad economy. We’ve written before in 2008 and more recently how bad economic conditions can be good for open source software. Red Hat is atop the list of open source vendors that suffer as traditional, enterprise IT customers such as banks freeze spending or worse, fail. However, the company’s deal for Gluster is yet another sign it is thriving and expanding despite economic difficulty and uncertainty.

You don’t have to just look at Red Hat’s earnings or take our word for it. On Jim Cramer’s ‘Mad Money’ this week, we heard Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst praised for Red Hat performance and traction where most companies and many economists are throwing the blame: financial services, government and Europe. Cramer credited Red Hat for a ‘spectacular quarter’ and allowed Whitehurst to tout the benefits of the Gluster technology and acquisition, particularly Gluster’s software-based storage technology that matches cloud computing. It was quite a contrast to the news out of Oracle Open World, where hardware was a focal point.

CAOS Theory Podcast 2011.07.08

Topics for this podcast:

*Numerous vendors pursuing PaaS
*Update on MongoDB vendor 10gen
*Structure Conference and Future of Cloud Survey
*LexisNexis open sources its platform amid Hadoop
*Decline of differentiation from open source
*Open source shows staying power in cloud, mobile

iTunes or direct download (30:01, 5.1MB)

The rise, fall and reality of commercial open source

We’ve been writing ourselves about the move toward more permissive licensing in commercial open source, as well as a lessening of the use of ‘open source’ as an identifier or differentiator. We’ve also seen others comment on a perceived loss of significance and importance of free and open source software and open standards. Combine this all with some typical observation on the lack of contribution back to open source software projects, and it might appear that open source software is a once-mighty empire in the midst of decline. However, from my perspective it seems despite all of this, open source software has never before been as pervasive, disruptive and innovative as it is right now. While we have yet to reach open nirvana, open source software is playing a pivotal role in the two most significant software markets currently: cloud computing and mobile computing.

Much of the gloom and doom in open source software the last couple of years has centered on the evil that is ‘open core,’ yet I have been among those contending that open core and the mixing of open source and proprietary models is often something that customers want. In addition, rather than just a matter of converting much or all that open source community goodness to cold hard cash, I believe all of these trends and perspectives support the idea that open source software is actually gaining in significance. Whether it is viewed as an effective marketing mechanism may be another thing, but the fact that open source is prevalent in the two hottest categories of IT today: cloud computing and mobile devices.

We’ve written extensively about open source software’s prevelance in cloud computing. We’ve also covered how the many, critical open source pieces of cloud computing stacks, whether SaaS, IaaS or PaaS, are also having an impact on openness and discussions of it, something we also see when considering recent partnerships and a changing landscape for Linux and open source software.

We’ve also covered the significance and prevalence of open source software in mobile computing. At the same time, we recognized that while open source software was a key ingredient to most if not all mobile software platforms and application ecosystems, there was a lack of open source software reaching end products and users.

In both cases, there are reasons and incentives for ‘going closed,’ so to speak, but it is the true open source efforts that elicit true community benefits: collaboration, transparency, speed, flexibility, security and more. So while open source as a term or identifier may not be what matters most to vendors or customers, there is no question open source is key to the business and future of many, if not most vendors in cloud and mobile computing. Ask Puppet Labs or Chef sponsor Opscode whether open source matters to their customers and their business. Ask Google whether openness is something they consider as they move forward on Android and Chrome. Ask Rackspace whether open source is critical in its open source cloud computing stack, OpenStack. Ask HP whether it is meaningful that WebOS is open source. I have. It is. So the next time we hear about the surrender, retreat, fade or decline of open source software or its importance in today’s computing landscape, just remember that today’s key markets tell a different story.

CAOS Theory Podcast 2011.05.27

Topics for this podcast:

*Smaller PaaS players unite with DotCloud-Duostack deal
*Typesafe taps Scala, Akka, open source and devops
*Changes continue at Continuent
*Future of Open Source Survey debrief
*Changes afoot at the OSI
*Microsoft moves to support CentOS Linux

iTunes or direct download (32:15, 5.5MB)

CAOS Theory Podcast 2011.05.13

Topics for this podcast:

*Watching for possible devops deals
*New technology, offerings highlight Hadoop
*Oracle proposes Hudson as Eclipse project
*Red Hat’s latest IaaS and PaaS
*Defining open source
*Big changes in the Linux and open source landscape
*451 Group at OSBC 2011 in San Francisco

iTunes or direct download (36:17, 6.2MB)

Is cloud computing opening up?

We’ve already identified the significance of open source software to cloud computing, based on the cloud stacks from large IaaS, PaaS and other providers, on the most popular projects used for public, private and hybrid clouds and on the traction of key open source pieces such as Linux, Xen, KVM, Apache Tomcat, Hadoop, PHP, Ruby and many others. We’ve also discussed how open source is playing a role not only in the technology, but in the discussions, debates and overall evolution of cloud computing. While we believe the continued use and growth of critical open source pieces in cloud computing will contribute to a more open cloud ecosystem and market, we actually saw some evidence of this recently with word that the next Ubuntu Linux from Canonical will support not only the Eucalyptus cloud framework, but also the ever-popular OpenStack technology, project and community.

We wondered recently about the impact of a cloud partnership between Red Hat and Eucalyptus Systems, which also works closely with Canonical for its Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud. In a recent discussion, Marten Mickos told me Eucalyptus Systems fully expects and supports Canonical’s moves toward another cloud framework, OpenStack. While Canonical’s strategy probably has as much to do with customer demand, particularly for cloud flexibility, as it does with responding to rivals’ moves and deals, I believe that both the Red Hat partnership with Eucalyptus Systems and Canonical’s support for multiple, open source cloud computing frameworks signal a more open cloud computing market that is evolving. Customers are prioritizing flexibility and portability, and open source represents both perceived and real mechanisms for providing it. We’ve seen similar support from rival vendors on the operating system and hypervisor, most notably with Red Hat and Microsoft on virtualization, and I expect we’ll see this repeated with other vendors and technologies in cloud computing.

Sure there is still the question of how open is open enough, but the latest activity is truly good news for users of open source software and customers of open source vendors, who will benefit from this cross-project, cross-cloud platform support, collaboration and perhaps, community.