OpenStack Cloud Platform Gains Momentum, But Rivals Circle


Josh Fraser, senior vice president of Sales and Business Development at RightScale, a Santa Barbara, Calif.-based company that manages cloud infrastructure from all of the cloud providers across public, private and hybrid clouds, said his company believes all the providers will prosper as companies increasingly choose to use hybrid clouds. He said 87 percent of RightScale's customer cloud usage comes from more than one cloud provider.

OpenStack's architecture allows developers to mix-and-match components to build platforms according to their needs, he said. "I don't think it's a question of either Amazon or OpenStack," he said. "Most customers need multiple options, and Amazon is typically not able to solve the complex needs of every customer."

Several analysts agree with this point of view. Gary Chen, research manager for IDC's Cloud and Virtualization System Software group, says OpenStack's development is similar to that of Linux, and jousting among cloud rivals compares with the Linux, Windows, Unix operating system spats. "We are in the early days of the cloud," Chen said. "One cloud platform is not going to meet the needs of every customer."

Jeff Kaplan, founder and managing director of research firm ThinkStrategies, said that the number of platform choices means customers have to be vigilant. "Customers should pay close attention to the maneuvering going on,” he said. “Don’t make a commitment to any stack unless it meets your needs and long-term objectives." Disputing the notion that OpenStack, Amazon and the others will permanently co-exist was Lydia Leong, Gartner’s research vice president of the Technology and Service Provider group, who said customers will want to be associated with Amazon because it is the largest provider with the most commonly used APIs. "You support the guy with the most market share," she said. "I believe the AWS ecosystem is the one that has the momentum." Hewlett-Packard at first seemed to exemplify this hard-nosed approach, when it announced in June that it would make its APIs compatible with AWS despite being one of OpenStack’s biggest supporters. But HP said the move was no knock on OpenStack.

"We're at a crossroads in the industry where one company has come to market early and their APIs are dominant," said Brian Aker, a Fellow at Hewlett-Packard's Cloud Division. "For us to acknowledge that and support their APIs -- that should be obvious as good business. But there is a lot to be learned and first markets don’t always get things right. There is a strong group involved with OpenStack, and we will see many more use cases enabled by OpenStack APIs."

PUBLISHED JULY 16, 2012

This story was updated at 4:07 p.m. PST to correct for the location of RightScale's base location in Santa Barabara, Calif.