OpenStack's success depends on IBM and HP's tech queens

Plus: Will NASA return to the fold?

+Comment OpenStack is the IT industry, sans Amazon, Google and Microsoft, coming together to craft an open-source cloud OS alternative to ... wait for it ... Amazon, Google and Microsoft.

It is because the terrible trio's public clouds threaten to eat the enterprise data centre – supplying the IT industry's lunch, and dinner, and tea and breakfast.

When keynote speakers congratulate the audience, you just know they're having to rally the troops because not enough progress is being made.

Here are snippets from the keynote presentation by Jim Zemlin, exec director of the Linux Foundation:

Open Source is redefining tech industry ... There's too much software to be written for any one organisation to write on its own. ... 80 per cent of code in Sony smartphones is open source ... Open source is the dominant form of software development ... Are you ready for the next open source blockbuster? ... OpenStack without question is a blockbuster ... Every market Linux has gone into it's conquered.

See what I mean? Self-congratulatory blather, but then this is the six-monthly OpenStack papal congress. The audience are the believers and just love their popes.

Remember X-Open?

This is a reprise of the Unix industry versus Microsoft writ large. Unix variants more or less collapsed into Linux so Linux lovers in the broad band of IT suppliers love OpenStack and its antipathy towards the proprietary Death Star clouds of Amazon, Microsoft and Google.

X-Open collapsed shortly after it amazingly certified Windows NT as an open operating system; it always was a bizarre organisation. OpenStackers with long memories will recall that and resist providing S3 compatibility in OpenStack releases. The Juno release came out last with with a Kilo release scheduled for April next year.

Lots of startups are jumping on the OpenStack bandwagon, hoping it will drive them towards fame, glory, an acquisition or an IPO. More or less all enterprise IT vendors support it, and why not? There's no downside and they all pretty much hate and fear the hyperscale public cloud suppliers. So pump a few hundred thousands of marketing dollars in, have marketing pour out warm words, get product engineering to support OpenStack components in some way, and, if it comes good, reap the rewards.

But the philosophy of OpenStack is the philosophy of open source and that is free software. We have the weirdness of proprietary software and HW/SW providers supporting open source OpenStack. Oh yes, some storage marketeer says, our proprietary array software supports OpenStack Swift and so everything changes and everything stays the same.

Let VMs in Linux-running CPUs call up storage and networking resources through OpenStack, but those resources will most probably be delivered by proprietary systems. All OpenStack does is layer what could become an industry-standard open-source abstraction layer over them, which is worthwhile in itself but of limited utility.

OpenStack is a worthwhile effort and if it succeeds in cramping the growth of Amazon, Google and Microsoft's public clouds that will be a very good outcome indeed we we'll have 4-way competition entrenched in the public and private cloud-supplying marketplace.

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