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OpenStack grows up: But is it grown up enough for enterprise IT?

Brandon Butler | April 11, 2013
Less than a year ago the cool thing for IT vendors to do was jump on the OpenStack bandwagon.

Then there is a whole ecosystem of OpenStack member companies who are ensuring that their products and services work in the OpenStack ecosystem. VMware and Microsoft, for example, have done work to ensure their hypervisors, ESX and Hyper-V respectively, work in OpenStack clouds, which are new features in the Grizzly release. And finally, there are consultants like Mirantis, which help organizations deploy OpenStack themselves.

The code rolls on

Whatever the approach of OpenStack member companies, project backers couldn't be happier with the progress. In the fall of 2012 the Folsom release of the code added what many considered one of the final significant missing pieces of the code in virtual networking capabilities through the Quantum project.

The latest Grizzly release of the code is about making OpenStack scale and integrate with existing systems more easily. Users can now manage multiple OpenStack clouds through a single console; there are new drivers that ensure it is compatible with a wide range of products commonplace in the enterprise market - from vendors such as HP, IBM, NetApp and Red Hat, for example.

The next release of the code, expected toward the end of 2013 named Havana, will bring with it some more fine-grained features, like a metering and billing service and an orchestration component for more easily managing and deploying OpenStack clouds. "It's getting to be very mature, especially in the areas of basic functionality," says OpenStack Foundation executive director Jonathan Bryce.

OpenStack is going global too. IBM, which recently came out with a significant backer, has worked to translate OpenStack guides into other languages, says OpenStack Foundation COO Mark Collier. To feed that international support, organizers are considering bringing the next Havana summit conference to an international location outside of the U.S. in late 2013.

Even with all the momentum, the project is still in its early days, and there are other open source platforms competing with OpenStack. CloudStack, which ceremoniously broke away from OpenStack last year and is backed by Citrix, is another open source cloud platform already in production and deployed with a nice uptake in the telecommunications market, says Zeus Kerravala, analyst at ZK Research. Eucalyptus is another open source platform that advertises close allegiance with Amazon Web Services, proclaiming to be the private cloud version of AWS.

"I think a lot of people are still kicking the tires on OpenStack," Kerravala says. "Once we see some more classic enterprise implementations, that may open people's eyes up a little more."

Gary Chen, an analyst with IDC who has been tracking OpenStack agrees. "OpenStack is still in the watching, and maybe a little bit of (proof of concept) stage for most enterprises," he says. Mainly do-it-yourself service providers have latched onto the project, but he says it's likely still at least a year or two away from being a significant play in the enterprise market. More offerings that are fully supported need to be rolled out, he says, and perhaps even more broadly, enterprises need to have a case for using cloud in general, which has been a slow uptake in the enterprise market.

"It's just a matter of time," Chen says. "With all the products and vendors involved in the project, it's hard to see how OpenStack will not be a success in some form. It's just a question of what form that will be."


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