At first glance OpenStack, the open source IaaS project for building private and public clouds, is an unstoppable juggernaut – everybody is doing it. Last week OpenStack took the important step of creating a Foundation to manage affairs without being too closely tied to one vendor – founding members are
- Platinum: AT&T, Canonical, HP, IBM, Nebula, Rackspace, Red Hat, SUSE
- Gold: Cisco, ClearPath, Cloudscaling, Dell, DreamHost, ITRI, Mirantis, Morphlabs, NetApp, Piston Cloud Computing, Yahoo!
But more members doesn’t automatically lead to more success. The more competing interests at a project the harder it is to get things done, especially when trying to establish a coherent open source codebase across multiple functions. Compare and contract with its competition- Amazon Web Services, where you have one vendor specifying and building APIs, and one licensed to support them on prem (Eucalyptus). AWS has proven itself to be a formidable engine in this space- it really is a juggernaut.
So the rest of the market all wants to gang up on AWS, which is impressively agile. Getting everyone to agree on stuff to compete is not impossible but it will be hard. The Eclipse Foundation worked because it started with a codebase, and an obvious key supporter in IBM, before opening up to the rest of the market. When I look at the OpenStack members one thing does strike me clearly… which is that these companies already have a track record of working together effectively- on Linux. Of course Linus Torvalds himself played a key role in keeping Linux together over the years, so it will be interesting to see whether an individual emerges as benevolent dictator. But like I say – we know the vendors mentioned can work together, so this should be critical mass, rather than meltdown.
OpenStack has a ton of challenges to overcome, but fear of AWS should concentrate the minds of members.
disclosure: Canonical, Dell, Red Hat, HP, and IBM are clients.