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OpenStack development finds big growing pains

Citrix, Eucalyptus/Amazon moves highlight fast-changing open source cloud market

By , Network World
April 05, 2012 05:47 PM ET

Network World - It's been an interesting past few weeks for OpenStack.

The open-source project for building cloud deployments began two years ago as a partnership between Rackspace and NASA and has blossomed to include more than 150 companies and more than 2,000 contributing developers. OpenStack reached a milestone on Thursday, with the fifth release of its software, code named Essex, which a variety of OpenStack supporters say brings the project to a new level of maturity, interoperability with other cloud providers and ease of use.

But cracks are starting to show.

The first fissure came in late March when Eucalyptus, which is an open-source project for building private clouds, announced an agreement with Amazon Web Services that will expand interoperability between Eucalyptus' private clouds and AWS' public cloud services. The move threw the support of market leader AWS behind an open source project that is not OpenStack.

Then, this week came the "bombshell" as Gartner analyst Lydia Leong called it: Citrix announced it is bringing its cloud building platform named CloudStack -- which it purchased last year for a reported $200 million from -- into the Apache Software Foundation, in effect creating a competing open source model to OpenStack.

READ: Citrix ditches OpenStack for Apache

READ: OpenStack supporters downplay Citrix defection

The rock throwing began. The day of the Citrix announcement, OpenStack officials shot back and downplayed the move and touted the momentum, strength and diversity of the OpenStack movement.

So, where does all this news leave OpenStack development? Supporters of the project say they will keep on trucking. But some analysts believe the news from Citrix could dramatically change the open-source cloud game. "This puts more pressure on OpenStack, that's for sure," said James Staten, a Forrester researcher.

OpenStack's release prior to Essex, code-named Diablo, last fall was underwhelming, Staten says and "it started a clock in a lot of people's eyes: When will they have something that's ready to deploy?" More than a third of businesses surveyed by Forrester say they have money in their budgets to spend on cloud deployments this year. "They don't want to wait," he says. "They're ready to go." OpenStack officials are optimistic about the Essex release. But, Staten says the true test of OpenStack progress and market standing will be judged by enterprise and cloud service provider adoption.

READ: OpenStack Essex release is most stable yet, supporters say

"This is a great release, I think one thing we've really moved the bar on is the level of integration between the projects that have been developed so far, and really allowing for a more seamless operation," says Josh McKenty, one of the co-founders of the OpenStack project who has started his own company, Piston Cloud Computing, which sells enterprise-grade cloud systems and support based on the OpenStack software.

Essex does have a number of improvements compared to previous releases. OpenStack is broken down into a series of projects, called "core" projects, meaning the OpenStack community judges them to be advanced to a certain level of maturity. Other projects are in an "incubator" status, meaning they are still in development. In prior releases, the core projects have been related to compute power, code named Nova; object storage, code named Swift; and Image service, code named Glance.

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