The OpenStack Pulse 2014 – new 451 report

We’ve recently updated our coverage of OpenStack with a new report, ‘The OpenStack Pulse 2014.’

The OpenStack project continues to be something of a lightning rod and also something of a dichotomy in the industry. On one hand, it has drawn the involvement of hundreds of supporting vendors and more than 17,000 individual members. It ranks highly among priorities, particularly for private clouds, among 451 Research survey respondents.

Yet critics are quick to point out issues: the continued difficulty of installing and implementing OpenStack; the challenges of pushing it to production and fragmentation — including different vendor objectives and agendas. Despite its downsides, one thing remains clear: OpenStack is a major concern and focus for large enterprises and service providers today.

Read the full article.

Hypervisor fight good for customers, good for FOSS

There have been many changes in the market and technology since Citrix acquired XenSource and a major stewardship stake in the Xen open source hypervisor four years ago. Red Hat’s 2008 Qumranet acquisition and subsequent push behind the Linux-integrated Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) hypervisor has added to the disruption. One thing, though, remains the same: the intense competition among these open source hypervisors in the enterprise market.

Read the entire article at LinuxInsider.

CAOS Theory Podcast 2010.12.10

Topics for this podcast:

*Oracle, Java, the Apache Software Foundation and open source
*An update on some open source database and data management players
*CorraTech grows with support for open source application alternatives
*Red Hat-Makara acquisition analysis and impact
*Linux kernel report shows strong support, but what now for Novell?

iTunes or direct download (29:31, 5.1MB)

CAOS Theory Podcast 2010.11.12

Topics for this podcast:

*Our latest CAOS Special Report – Control and Community
*Red Hat releases RHEL 6
*Symbian and Oracle highlight community challenges
*The latest on government adoption of OSS from GOSCON
*Open core issue continues, now with Linux and evil twins

iTunes or direct download (31:02, 8.5MB)

Linux Foundation highlights growth, but what versions?

The Linux Foundation has released some survey findings as it hosts its End User Summit. We agree with many of the findings, and discuss our take below. But we also wonder more about which version of Linux these large enterprises are using for their own infrastructure, for cloud computing and for the technologies and services they build on top of Linux. More on that below, too, but first, some thoughts on the survey results.

One of the more interesting findings from the survey pertains to migrations to Linux from Windows. More than 36% of respondents said their Linux deployments in the last two years had been from Windows. More than 31% were moving to Linux from Unix, 13.5% reported no new Linux deployments and most, 66%, said Linux deployments of the last two years have been centered on new applications and services (greenfield deployments).

In terms of Windows migration, we agree there are significant drivers for Linux over Windows in cloud computing, where more than 70% of Linux Foundation respondents cited Linux as their primary cloud platform. We agree that Linux appears to be the preferred route to cloud computing offerings, both public and private (as covered in our special report, Seeding the Clouds). However, we must also acknowledge that the continued, wider availability of Microsoft’s Azure is having and will continue to have an impact on the market and may help Microsoft mitigate the cloud connection to Linux, according to cloud users and mixed-environment shops with which we’ve spoken. Another point to remember here is that Microsoft, which has changed significantly in its approach and strategy with Linux and open source, will likely support other hypervisors and perhaps Linux with Azure as well.

The Linux Foundation survey also highlights continued gains for Linux at the expense of Unix, with 19.8% of respondents indicating a decrease in their use of the OS (compared with 18% decreasing use of Windows and only 1.8% decreasing use of Linux). Those planning on increased use were 76% for Linux, 41% for Windows and 19.5% for Unix. We also wonder whether Oracle’s end of support for OpenSolaris will perpetuate Unix-Linux migration?

We also saw consistency from our own research in the Linux Foundation survey’s coverage of the drivers for and benefits of Linux. We asked more broadly about the factors driving open source software, not just Linux, but the results from both our survey at the end of last year and the recent Linux Foundation survey do match up. While cost savings was cited by our own survey respondents as the top reason for adoption, flexibility was cited as the top advantage after adoption. Similarly, the Linux Foundation survey showed that 67.5% of respondents cited ‘features/technical superiority’ as the top driver for Linux adoption. Next, with 65.4% of LF respondents, was ‘lower total cost of ownership.’ A recurring theme we are hearing in terms of Linux and open source cost savings centers on licensing. Not only do users and customers report cost savings from royalty-free open source software, but they also cite license maintenance as a key source of cost savings. Basically, because software is open source, organizations do not have to worry about convoluted IT audits and keeping track of licensing across physical, virtual, cloud and other resources. Though there still may be some trepidation around open source licensing, it seems that Linux and open source software represent both cost-savings and simplicity in terms of licensing for many users, particularly in cloud computing.

While Linux Foundation does not delve into the version of Linux, we recently asked open source consumers about their Linux choices. We have covered unpaid, community Linux in the enterprise since 2008 and more recently community Linux in the clouds, but we were amazed to hear the response when we asked 286 open source users about their Linux choices. More than 70% (206) of respondents cited ‘unpaid community Linux, such as CentOS or Debian’ as the distribution they use. 12.6% reported use of ‘paid, subscription Linux, such as RHEL or SLES.’ With respondents able to check multiple categories, another 26% said they used a combination of paid and unpaid community Linux and another 5% cited other options. Our survey pool of more than 1,700 open source consumers is made up of about 65% with 50 or fewer employees, 10% with 50 to 100 employees, 7% with 100 to 249 employees, another 9% with 250 to 2,500, and 6% with more than 2,500 employees, but we were interested by the fact that only 16% of our survey pool claimed to be non-paying open source users. We also acknowledge the Linux Foundation survey was aimed at large enterprises and government organizations with $500m or more in annual revenue and 500 or more employees.

Still, we continue to watch community Linux, particularly in cloud computing uses, and have no doubt it is having an impact on the paid, enterprise Linux market, mainly in terms of pricing, support and flexibility.

Linux thunderstorm in the clouds

There’s a thunderous battle brewing in the enterprise IT market and it’s all about Linux. The battle brings new names to the fight as well, from the largest of cloud providers Oracle, Amazon and VMWare to smaller upstarts tuning Linux specifically for cloud computing and its users, such as the hoster and service provider-oriented CloudLinux.

As for Oracle and its introduction of Oracle Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel, this has been causing a stir in enterprise Linux circles. However, I have to agree with Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst that this latest Oracle move is quite reminiscent of when Oracle Unbreakable Linux, later known as Oracle Enterprise Linux, hit the market in 2006-2007. It was supposed to wipe out Red Hat, but it didn’t. I expect with plenty of Oracle shops in which to grow, Oracle’s Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel will manage to move ahead without much disruption to Red Hat’s growth, which based on its latest earnings call is healthy.

Oracle’s Solaris, on the other hand, continues to face an ongoing challenge of defection to Linux, whether Red Hat, Ubuntu, CentOS, SUSE or other OS including BSD. As we’ve covered on the CAOS blog, Oracle’s decision to kill off OpenSolaris may impact customers wary of the company’s growing presence throughout the software stack and now in hardware, too, leading many to finally make a decision on moving ahead with Solaris or moving to Linux. There’s also another option on the table now that we’ve seen the launch of OpenIndiana, a fork of OpenSolaris supported by the Illumos Foundation.

There’s another computing giant making noise around Linux: Amazon, which, similar to Oracle, is seeking to supplant use of and payment for Red Hat’s or other Linux distributions by making available its own Linux Amazon Machine Image (AMI) optimized for Amazon Web Services. There’s no question the presence and continued, increasing involvement from cloud players such as Amazon will impact what other vendors are offering and what customers are consuming in the cloud. This, and the announcement of OpenStack from Rackspace, are just the kinds of thing we can expect to see more of, as covered in our latest CAOS special report ‘Seeding the Clouds.’

It’s not just the largest of vendors that are getting in on the cloud computing action and traction for Linux. Another example is CloudLinux, a smaller vendor that aims its Linux, based on CentOS with added control panel and other features, squarely at service providers interested in cloud computing. Furthering its own efforts, CloudLinux recently announced continuing growth and an interesting deal with Ksplice to provide hosting service providers CloudLinux kernel updates without rebooting servers.

CloudLinux, as well as Canonical and its Ubuntu Linux, highlight the head start Red Hat, and to some extent its enterprise Linux counterpart Novell, have given other companies ready and willing to serve up Linux in the cloud. These vendors, many of which base their own offerings on CentOS, also highlight the ongoing presence of community Linux in cloud computing, a topic we’ve covered as well.

Just when it seemed things couldn’t get any crazier or more competitive, we haven’t even touched on the rumored, potential acquisition of Novell’s SUSE Linux by virtualization giant and cloud contender VMware, which has significant implications for the market. Sure VMware has been talking for years about how its software obfuscates the need for an OS, but hey, wasn’t it only a year ago when Oracle acted as if cloud computing didn’t exist? Turns out the clouds are for real, and it turns out Linux is more relevant than it ever has been. The real interesting thing is that in many ways, the competition is just getting started.

New 451 Group Special Report-Open Source Seeds the Clouds

There are a number of cloud computing events and announcements taking place — VMworld, a countering announcement from Citrix, and recent partnership among rPath, newScale and Eucalyptus Systems for private and hybrid clouds — that we believe are indicative of the significant role and impact open source software is having in cloud computing — a topic we cover in depth in a new 451 Group special report, Seeding the Clouds, which is a collaboration of our CAOS and CloudScape practices.

By considering the open source pieces and players that constitute much of the infrastructure and underpinnings of cloud services from major providers Amazon, Google, Rackspace, VMware and Terremark, we analyzed they key pieces prevalent across them all and also picked out patterns that we are seeing repeated in the broader cloud computing market. We also consider how these larger vendors are playing a role in the rise of open source pieces and commercial supporters, which are finding opportunity among several categories of customers, including enterprise and service provider cloud users.

For example, the recently announced OpenStack from Rackspace, NASA and host of other partners (covered on the CAOS Theory blog and in a 451 Group report, is something we anticipate we’ll see more of in the form of greater participation, opening of code and open source-centered initiatives. We also expect both response to these efforts and other initiatives that offer more open alternatives to existing, unofficial standards such as VMware and Amazon. One such example announced after the writing of the report is the initiative for self service private and hybrid clouds among rPath, newScale and Eucalyptus Systems with the systems integration heft of Momentum SI.

As stated, the response and competition is not limited to the open offerings, as we see a variety of large cloud and IT services providers understanding and appreciating the value of communities: Amazon, Oracle, VMware and even Microsoft, which as we discuss in the report is among other cloud providers in its use of and participation with the PHP community. Citrix is another example, and it’s evident the company believes openness in the cloud is a good thing based on its Citrix OpenCloud announcement and focus on ‘Open Cloud,’ (which also coincides with its acquisition of virtualization management vendor VMLogix).

We also expect VMware and others to continue to increase their involvement and strategy with open source software for cloud computing, and would highlight the prevalance of open source software now within VMware (SpringSource, Hyperic, Zimbra, for example) and its prominence at VMWorld this week.

While there will certainly be challenges, including the maturity, evolution and learning from open source we are seeing and expect more of from larger, non-open source competitors, we expect more open source code and commercial supporters in enterprise and service provider cloud markets for some time. For customers, the competition, not only between open source and proprietary vendors, but also within open source and in partnerships and collaborations, and presence of open source in the cloud mean additional options and value — another reason we expect open source to maintain its prominent place in the clouds.

Small business opportunity for open source gets bigger

There have been some interesting reports and findings recently regarding the opportunity and demand for open source software and its vendors among small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). First, a study from CompTIA indicates that SMBs are becoming more aggressive and willing to spend on IT provided it delivers cost savings and other efficiencies. In terms of open source, the study indicates nearly 20% of SMBs polled plan to begin using open source software in the next year. We believe that is a significant figure, particularly when we consider all of the open source software – from OS to middleware to applications — that SMBs may already be using, but just are not necessarily aware it is open source (via SIs, resellers, service providers and others that are increasingly using and incorporating open source).

The CompTIA study also indicates a trend for open source among SMBs that we have been watching over the last year and a half. When we delved into the subject of SMB use of open source software in our report, The SMB Market Opportunity in November 2007, we found that there was still generally far greater opportunity for open source software and its vendors in the enterprise market. Reasons centered on the limited resources and tactical, rather than strategic IT operations of a typical SMB, the dominance of established players such as Microsoft and their partners and a general skepticism about open source among SMBs, compared to a growing credibility and acceptance among larger enterprises.

However, things have changed since then, and we continue to see signs that SMBs, like enterprises, are increasingly willing and able to adopt and pay for open source software and related support and services. A major part of this, as we see it, are the all-imporant sales channels for SMBs opening up to open source. Why? Similar to the way difficult economic conditions have driven users and customers to open source, as we found in our more recent report Climate Change: User Perspectives on the Impact of Economic Conditions on Open Source Adoption, system integrators, VARs, managed service providers and others are moving to include open source, and its reputation for cost savings, among their offerings.

Further reinforcement of the changes to the SMB market opportunity for open source: a separate report from Springboard Research and systems and network management vendor Spiceworks that indicates adoption and use of Linux servers among SMBs is growing, particularly in emerging and non-U.S. geographies. This is also consistent with our findings from a few years ago that indicated North American SMBs were most tied to traditional OS deployments using Windows for both desktop and server, but that other geographies, particularly emerging markets, were more likely to adopt Linux.

This all reinforces the idea that the SMB market opportunity for open source software is growing and while we still believe there remains greater opportunity in the enterprise, where open source has had more time to evolve and gain acceptance, we are already seeing a broader embrace of open source, including smaller organizations. Given its accessibility, flexibility and other benefits, it would seem open source is the perfect match for SMBs. After a few years of hype about this market and opportunity for open source, it seems reality is finally beginning to catch up.

Open source evolving with the cloud

We’ve covered the significance of open source software in cloud computing, both with the emergence of cloud models and more recently from the perspective of customers. In the first weeks of 2010, we see open source is maintaining, if not growing, its role in cloud computing. There are also indications open source and its use are evolving in the cloud.

While we’ve seen open source software used both to build cloud computing infrastructure and offered among cloud computing services, we had thought that the building of clouds with open source may be the greater opportunity given typical and historical adoption and use patterns. However, we are seeing continued examples of additional open source offerings in the cloud.

One such example is MuleSoft’s new offer of Tomcat application server via the GoGrid cloud. The product, MuleSoft Cloudcat, consists of cloud-based Apache Tomcat on GoGrid with commercial support from MuleSoft.

We’re also seeing examples of new open source software for the cloud. We’ve covered the use of unpaid, community Linux in the cloud, but a new cloud-specific distribution, CloudLinux, may also have some interesting implications, particularly for hosters and other service providers. CloudLinux, compatible with Red Hat Enterprise Linux clone CentOS, is commercially backed and supported by a company of the same name.

Cloud services and software are not the only sign of open source’s continued prominence in cloud computing. Also showing us that open source is maturing along with cloud computing: a new partnership between Terracotta and Eucalyptus. These two open source cloud players obviously see the benefits of working together and they’ll be integrating technology and teaming on sales and marketing.

We’ve also seen recently that the community aspects of open source continue to hold importance in cloud computing. In response to a perceived movement away from open source, a project dubbed OpenECP has forked from Enomaly’s Elastic Computing Platform. Citing ‘abrupt commercialization in November 2009,’ OpenECP backers indicate they will maintain free availability and provide community support. Interestingly, the OpenECP project chose to license it under the Affero GPLv3, and we’re watching licensing moves to see if cloud computing prompts more use of AGPL.

All of this shows how open source continues to play a vital role in cloud computing, enabling a wide range of vendors and providers to both build cloud computing infrastructure and applications using open source, and to offer open source via cloud computing to enterprise and other customers.

Funambol – AGPL’d, ad-supported mobile open source

Mobile open source player Funambol is certainly giving us plenty to watch these days with its Affero GPL licensing, its use of ad-supported mobile phone access to email and general bet on mobile open source software. Like an audience watching the tightrope act, we’re observing intently (Funambol translates from the Latin words funis (rope) and ambulare (walking) to give us the company name and tightrope walker logo). I recently met with the company’s VP of marketing, Hal Steger, who demonstrated perfect balance drinking a cup of coffee and talking at the same time.

For me, one of the more important and serious questions about Funambol centers on its licensing choice. Will AGPLv3 licensing, viewed as both a positive and a penalty by different parties, prove to fuel a larger, more effective developer community? Or will it mire the vendor and its SaaS model down in sharing requirements? Steger says the move appears to be paying off given Funambol was among the first to adopt the AGPLv3 and adoption of the license is now growing.

Another big thing to watch with Funambol is its use of advertisements to support its push email offering, primarily intended for mobile operators and service providers. Steger reports the ads are not yet producing revenue, but instead are intended to compliment the company’s use of open source and make push email free. This is a recognition, as Steger explains it, that consumers’ interest in email on their mobile phones comes with an expectation of low or no cost.

In terms of mobile Linux and mobile open source software, Funambol sees, as we do, issues of fragmentation and an overwhelming number of mobile Linux flavors that are far less open than server-side Linux. Still, Steger sees this as Funambol’s challenge and opportunity, that is, to enable mobile phones of all kinds to handle push email from a variety of email clients.

As the company balances commercial and community growth, including a recently launched forge site, the results will give us some insight into the impacts of open source licensing and business model decisions.