Editorial & Analysis
Also by this author
17 Apr 2013
Encouraging signs from the OpenStack Summit in Portland, Oregon, but the race to convince customers to build clouds on open source platforms is far from over.
At the OpenStack Summit in Portland, Oregon this week, there have been plenty of signs that the open source framework for building and managing private, public and hybrid infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) clouds is gaining momentum. At the same time, however, others suggest that mainstream adoption is still some way off.
Launched in 2010 by hosting company Rackspace and space agency NASA, OpenStack now has the support of most of the world’s leading IT companies - among them IBM, HP, Dell, Red Hat and Cisco. That’s a good sign for the framework’s long-term success.
Many of them made OpenStack announcements at this week’s event. Red Hat, for example, announced the availability of a community version of its OpenStack distribution, RDO. This is “a freely available, community-supported distribution of OpenStack that runs on Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Fedora and their derivatives,” say company executives.
More importantly, it paves the way for a paid-for commercial distribution that will be bundled with additional tools, service and support for enterprise deployments. In much the same way that the Fedora operating system operates as a work-in-progress between Red Hat and the worldwide developer community and generates features and functions that are subsequently incorporated in the commercial Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating system used by businesses and public-sector organisations, this newly available commercial version of RDO will provide a feeder channel for new features that will end up in the commercially supported offering.
And according to reports from the OpenStack Summit, that commercial version is now just months away and could be available for enterprise adoption as early as July. The race is now on to polish the enterprise distribution and get it to a state of maturity that will convince private and public-sector adopters to invest in it. With that in mind, Red Hat also announced the openstack.redhat.com forum, where users of OpenStack on Red Hat platforms can “share knowledge and build capacity”.
Elsewhere at the Summit, OpenStack founder Rackspace announced plans to partner with other hosting companies and to telcos, in order to build a multi-provider network of interconnected data centres offering customers back-up and recovery services in different geographic areas. Under these partnership agreements, Rackspace will deliver servers with pre-installed copies of OpenStack, or will install OpenStack and supporting software on servers provided by partners.
All good signs of growing maturity, perhaps, but presentations from real-life OpenStack early adopters at the Summit suggested that there is still much work to be done on the technology. One report [http://tinyurl.com/c5285ey] describes how a presentation by news agency Bloomberg CTO Pravic Chandra detailed a wide range of components that his team was forced to develop itself, in order plug some of the gaps it found in OpenStack. Bloomberg is releasing the code behind these components on developers forum Github, Chandra said, in order to assist other organisations facing the same challenges, which range from managing highly available databases to log aggregation at the hypervisor level.
And while OpenStack continues to grow, so does its competition: in the open-source space, CloudStack, Eucalyptus and OpenNebula are all vying for customer attention. Elsewhere, OpenStack continues to be judged against tried-and-tested proprietary technologies: in public clouds, the comparison is with Amazon Web Services; in private clouds, it’s VMware, despite that company’s membership of OpenStack. The race is far from over.