Open source cloud vendors air their differences

The open source cloud world looks to be getting more contentious. At a panel discussion this week, representatives from OpenStack, Citrix’s CloudStack and Eucalyptus – three competing open source cloud deployment software platforms – traded jabs back and forth.


The open source cloud world looks to be getting more contentious as representatives from OpenStack, Citrix’s CloudStack and Eucalyptus – three competing open source cloud deployment software platforms – traded jabs back and forth at a panel discussion last week.

The elephant in the room was undoubtedly a company not officially represented in the conversation: Amazon Web Services. Much of the conversation, and criticism seemed to be over the strategy each takes in terms of dealing with AWS. Eucalyptus and CloudStack have embraced AWS by working to have fidelity with AWS’s application programming interfaces. OpenStack, while supporting AWS in its open source code, has taken a much different approach and is attempting to position itself as an open source alternative to AWS, which Rackspace President Lew Moorman outlined earlier in the week.

Eucalyptus CEO Marten Mickos said during the Structure conference in San Francisco that Eucalyptus has such strong support for AWS because it is the market leader. Asked if Eucalyptus would support OpenStack APIs, Mickos said: “When we see it actually being adopted broadly in a commercial fashion, we’re happy to look at that.”

Chris Kemp, a co-founder of OpenStack and current president of Nebula, an OpenStack-powered cloud provider, responded by questioning Eucalyptus’s long-term strategy of aligning the company so closely with AWS if the project is open source.

“You don’t have control over the Amazon APIs, that’s why they’re closed,” he said. “There’s only one company on earth that gets to define those APIs.” He added that Eucalyptus has diverged from its open source standard by being so aligned with AWS. Eucalyptus and AWS announced an agreement earlier this year that would allow for joint collaboration of integration between the two systems.

Meanwhile, Sameer Dholakia, group vice president and general manager of the Cloud Platforms group at Citrix added said its “odd” that OpenStack is not doing more to support AWS integration with the project. Citrix made that abundantly clear a couple of months ago when it migrated away from the OpenStack project and released its CloudStack platform to the Apache Software Foundation, which now governs the project. The three representatives did agree that while Eucalyptus and CloudStack are product offerings from a company, OpenStack is an open source code that vendors or end users can adopt themselves to manage a cloud. Dholakia said that approach of offering a specific product drives a different viewpoint.

“The pragmatism of serving customers drives a fundamentally different set of discussions,” he said. “Both Apache CloudStack and Eucalyptus share a point of view that you have to support the Amazon API. There a billion dollars, estimated, of revenue and ecosystem that’s out there working in that platform. It seems almost odd to not invest a great deal of energy allowing those customers to work on your platform.”

Kemp responded that OpenStack has a broad range of support from major tech industry players, ranging from HP, Dell, IBM, Rackspace, Cisco and dozens of other companies. He predicted that in a few years, only one of the three projects would be around and back on that stage. Mickos said he would take that bet, adding that the partnership that really matters today is with AWS. “I would much rather be in the Amazon ecosystem because it’s much more than at API, that’s where developers congregate today.”

Mickos called OpenStack an industry “consortium,” and even compared the project to the Soviet Union, serving only its members.

Kemp had his own words for AWS, meanwhile, calling them the “Wal Mart of infrastructure,” with it being “reasonably” fast, secure and cost efficient. “Is it ever going to be incredibly secure, is it ever going to be incredibly performant, is it ever going to be incredibly reliable?”

Toward the end of the half-hour discussion the three representatives attempted to smooth the situation over. When one audience member called for Kemp, Mickos and Dholakia to “hug it out,” they awkwardly did, personifying the tension that seems to exist in the open source cloud market today.

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