Intel bins ESXi in in-house private cloud revamp

Chipzilla goes all—in with OpenStack, but multi-hypervisor plan no longer includes Virtzilla

Intel's decided it can do without VMware's ESXi hypervisor as part of a big upgrade of its private cloud.

Chipzilla's a Platinum Member of the OpenStack Foundation and therefore has a seat on the project's board. The company's also been building an OpenStack private cloud since around 2011, but built a customised virtualisation controller.

Now a white paper (PDF) has appeared on the OpenStack web site in which Intel's plans to re-vamp its private cloud by adopting the OpenStack control plane are revealed. And that plan suggests that ESXi doesn't feature in Chipzilla's future.

VMware and Intel get along very well: the latter cooked up extensions in silicon to help the former. As a result, VMware reckons Intel made more money than it did during the server virtualisation boom.

But the two companies have very different views about OpenStack. VMware thinks it needs to be tamed by vSphere, so that developers don't do crazy things that IT teams have to re-discover. Intel thinks world+dog should go nuts and build clouds on OpenStack.

The paper shows Chipzilla's walking the talk and is planning “... a fully automated architecture that minimizes manual service requests: aiming at instant fulfillment of 90% of service requests.”

“By Phase III, the enterprise private cloud will be heavily based on open standards and open source technologies. Phase III represents the next step in the journey to federated, interoperable, and open hybrid cloud. It will support PaaS, containers and automated hybrid cloud provisioning to maximize scalability, flexibility and value.”

Here's the money shot from the document, showing how all that good stuff above will happen after ESXi disappears in Phase II.

Intel's plan for its private cloud

Intel's private cloud road map: ESXi gets dropped off in Phase II

Hybrid cloud provisioning is an interesting element of Intel's private cloud upgrade, as it recognises that some workloads are best suited to the public cloud for performance or financial reasons, but wants IT to act as a broker rather than letting users do the choosing.

What to make of Intel's architectural decisions? ESXi is a first-class hypervisor under OpenStack, but is read-only unless you shell out for other VMware products. While the white paper says Intel's motives for rebuilding its private cloud are about improving automation and building on the US$21m savings it's made since 2011, it looks a lot like booting out ESXi also offers potential savings.

VMware's consistent position is that its software adds lots of value, so it can see off competitors. That logic held as Microsoft challenged it with Hyper-V and has mostly held as OpenStack grew in sophistication. El Reg's virtualisation desk suspects there won't be much panic down VMware way on news of Intel's changes, because OpenStack remains something to be approached with caution and deep pockets. Committed vSphere users would need very compelling reasons to unpick their infrastructure. Intel's OpenStack entanglements are just such a reason and the white paper even mentions its private cloud is a way to give back to the community.

A moment of squirming for VMware, then, rather than a knife-from-back extraction ? ®

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