Docker containers vs. OpenStack clouds

Can't we all just get along?

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Matt Asay has a smart piece over on InfoWorld about some ongoing struggles with OpenStack, as evidenced by Red Hat’s most recent earnings call.

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It begs the question: Are containers to blame?

Here’s Asay:

As big as the community behind OpenStack has been, [Red Hat CEO Jim] Whitehurst declared Docker the “single biggest topic that comes up among ... [Red Hat’s] leading [customers].” In fact, Whitehurst noted that he hears more from customers about Docker than OpenStack.

OpenStack is a vendor response to Amazon Web Services -- and a half-baked one. Containers, by contrast, immediately make developers’ lives easier (just as AWS does), so they’re being adopted in droves.

 Asay goes on to argue that Red Hat should basically give up on OpenStack and go all in on containers.

Is it an either or?

The interesting thing about this is that it’s being painted as an either or. But it doesn’t have to be.

OpenStack and Docker are young open source projects that each hold a tremendous amount of potential. They’re fundamentally different in at least one important way though: OpenStack is an infrastructure platform managed by IT operators to enable a private cloud. Containers are a developer tool used to help write and manage code. They serve different audiences.

IT ops need to be able to support containers. They can do that using OpenStack, or any other cloud or non-cloud infrastructure stack they want. Developers want infrastructure to develop and run apps on – they shouldn’t care if it’s OpenStack or Amazon Web Services, or anything else, so long as they get what they need.

To me it doesn't sound like an either/or, but rather an “and.” Here’s proof: OpenStack has a project named Magnum to support containers and management tools like Kubernetes in OpenStack clouds.


IT management vendors like Red Hat and VMware are also both embracing container technology. Red Hat redesigned its application development platform named OpenShift to fully support containers. At its most recent conference VMware announced broad new support for containers and a new micro-virtualization platform specifically for running containers.

So it’s not that a company like Red Hat needs to give up on OpenStack and go all in with containers. Containers and cloud can work together.

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