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Stack wars: OpenStack v. CloudStack v. Eucalyptus

OpenStack has the buzz, CloudStack has the bucks, Eucalyptus has the bonds with Amazon

By Christine Burns, Network World
June 03, 2013 06:08 AM ET

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Kranowski said that Eucalyptus’ architecture comprises five parts, similar to AWS, a medium level of install difficulty, and a limited administrative GUI that needs quite a bit of help from a command line counterpart. Also, Eucalyptus has a key management model of security in which the five architectural components need to register with each other.  

He described OpenStack as having a fragmented, distributed architecture, rated it as difficult to install, and said it gets driven by multiple CLIs, has a strong, token-based security system, and uses Swift – the OpenStack massively scalable redundant storage system as the linchpin of its high availability story.

But these technical differences are not getting as much attention as the momentum markers each camp pushes to prove why it is better suited for enterprise private cloud business.

For example, the OpenStack camp boasts that at its semi-annual OpenStack Summit in mid-April, there were 3,000 conference attendees, 500 code contributors and 8,500 downloads of it most recent code release in just three weeks.
OpenStack competitors are quick to point out that of all three stacks, OpenStack is the most difficult to piece together. “OpenStack is really a technology, not a product,” says Peder Ulander, vice president of product marketing for cloud platforms at Citrix.  

JC Martin is a cloud architect at eBay, which currently runs 50% of the site’s business on a private cloud. Martin explains the current OpenStack-based cloud is his company’s second generation, its first one was built on a home-grown platform. He adds that his team wanted to move to open source last year and after an extensive evaluation of the options, selected OpenStack and deployed it themselves.

“You do need a talented group of developers that have experience in day-to-day systems administration and know how to write service automation software and then write code that exposes those services to both IT staff and business end users,” Martin says.  

Lauren Nelson, Forrester's private IaaS cloud lead, agrees with Ulander and contends that enterprises will most readily consume OpenStack via a provider, as opposed to downloading a distribution themselves and standing up their own private cloud internally.

“I know of very few companies that will want to pull their top development talent off a revenue-generating project to build an IaaS internally,” Nelson says.

But there are literally dozens of companies that either have built or have announced plans for OpenStack-based IaaS products, and each has to demonstrate a strategic advantage for its customers.

Portability concerns

Some analysts question whether those strategic features will over time become propriety features that would curtail the whole point of having an open source-based stack: being able to avoid vendor lock-in because writing a cloud application to an open standard is supposed to provide some portability options.

"The race is basically over unless the vendors who are building their private cloud offerings on OpenStack decide to get greedy and built proprietary features that could give them an appealing edge in that market, but could also lead to some levels of OpenStack interoperability issues down the road," Enterprise Management Associates analyst Torsten Volk says.  

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