Recently, Gartner, a research firm who specializes in IT consulting for large enterprises, issued a warning about OpenStack. It seems they’ve been getting a lot of questions from IT managers about this OpenStack thing and what to do about it. The warning was rather scathing, and sparked a response from an OpenStack proponent, Mirantis. In reading this response, I felt the need to respond to it, but it was too long for a comment. Note I’m not necessarily defending the original Gartner report, nor anyone else for that matter, but I think some of the Gartner points were missed and also wanted to address a few of the points made.
The Mirantis response can be found at http://www.mirantis.com/blog/gartner-cannot-tell-about-openstack-cloud/ for reference as I go through the items. To the author, I appreciate your post and understand that having a horse in the race makes this Gartner report seem rather scathing. You need to respond to it. However, I think you missed a few points on some of your responses.
OpenStack gets a lot of good press about their “partners”, when in reality those partners are doubling down and providing their solutions for multiple CMPs. Look at Nicira, CAStor, Brocade, NetApp, etc. There is a press release whenever one of these does something for OpenStack, even though they almost always simultaneously roll support into other CMPs for the same feature. If OpenStack is good at one thing, it’s self promotion. That’s really the essence of the Gartner report.
2. “It is definitely open and, at this point in time, it is as close to a standard as it gets in the open source cloud ecosystem. Making the leap from interoperability challenges to “not an open standard” is unjustified.”
OpenStack may be open in the strict sense, but it’s not a standard. Any old company can’t roll an API and dub it a standard. Really the only thing that qualifies at the moment is AWS, because everyone is trying to be compatible.
3. “If I want to deploy OpenStack, I go to openstack.org, deploy it using freely available recipes from Puppet or Chef and I have myself a cloud. I can do it with almost any hypervisor, use almost any flavor of Linux as a host OS and run it pretty much on any hardware…”
The point here regarding vendor lock-in is that, as a customer of a company that uses OpenStack, it’s just as difficult to migrate out of OpenStack and into VMware as it is to migrate out of VMware and into OpenStack. Both from a standpoint of writing an application against the API and trying to port that application, and migrating infrastructure between. It may even be tough to migrate between two OpenStack vendors, depending on the features they’ve implemented and Corporations they’ve partnered with to provide the various OpenStack components. This isn’t necessarily a knock on OpenStack, just again that it’s not a standard and CIOs are perhaps getting the wrong impression by all of the recent OpenStack press.
4. “Beyond supporting Eucalyptus with a quote for their press release, Amazon doesn’t care about them. Eucalyptus would align with OpenStack marketing hype if it could; but it can’t” … “Don’t consider CloudStack. It will soon die.”…”CloudStack only runs on Ubuntu 10.04 host OS, which is 3 years old and doesn’t have driver support for some of the newer hardware. As time passes, this will only get worse.”
This point of yours, unfortunately, really undermines the validity of your whole post. It makes an otherwise level-headed post go off into the deep end, and loses much of the audience by making blatantly untrue remarks. This is the point where I stopped believing that you might know what you’re talking about.
5. “There have been only a few board meetings so far; all – very productive with no infighting. I can attest to that as someone, who personally participated in ALL meetings.”
I have no opinion on this, as I’m not sure what sort of inside information Gartner is referring to. I’d be inclined to believe you if you hadn’t already destroyed your reputation for being fair and truthful in #4.
6. “Stability is one big gray area and is a function of adoption, not time. Everybody knows that enterprise software sucks – commercial or open source. I can just as credibly make a claim that VMWare, Microsoft and Citrix are not stable and never will be.”
The point is that it’s not ready for prime time. OpenStack may be a great product, with great goals, but at this point it’s not easy to use without local expertise, it’s not stable enough to use without local expertise. VMware, AWS, and Microsoft, with all of their flaws, are far more stable. And far more importantly, there are plenty of experts. You just have to understand that Gartner is trying to help management make decisions, and at this point it’s not a great idea to jump in on OpenStack if you want to deploy a production environment. That doesn’t mean OpenStack is bad, it’s just helping reality to settle in in the midst of the buzz.
7. “VMWare is strong in the legacy, datacenter automation market. I wrote about it as well. OpenStack is competing more with AWS, not VMWare in the new, disruptive “open-cloud market.” It is true that, for now, enterprises fail to see the difference between VMWare and OpenStack. Longer term – it will change.”
Sure, VMware is working for compatibility with multiple CMPs, and most CMPs aren’t exactly in the same market as these CMPs.
8. “Unlike with VMware or Microsoft, OpenStack is designed as a series of loosely coupled components that are easy to integrate with a variety of third party solutions and hardware platforms. The only reason why it doesn’t make sense to use OpenStack with commercial platforms like VMWare is because VMware’s hypervisor is only designed to work with VMware’s suite of products. “Maximizing interoperability…for multi-vendor substitution,” as suggested in this report is only possible with OpenStack and not commercial offerings or vendor centric, open source solutions.”
I don’t think this Gartner statement is attacking OpenStack, but just offering advice in general. I agree that the layers idea is strong in OpenStack, but it’s also the reason why you get lock-in. I can’t be confident that the application I develop against OpenStack will work between OpenStack vendors, because each component is so loosely coupled that individual OpenStack vendors will have built proprietary solutions. OpenStack is great if you want to build something out of it, but not so great for those downstream. Not sure I believe the “only possible with OpenStack” comment.