Could OpenStack Benefit from the Power of One?
Is the market becoming flooded with too many OpenStack distributions and services? Is there a risk of too much fragmentation with such a new and important open platform? That's a question I considered in a recent post called "In Five Years, Expect Far Fewer OpenStack Service Providers." Citrix officials and others have repeatedly made the point that there is much more press and hubbub surround OpenStack than there are deployments. And several big companies have been departing from their original plans with OpenStack. Could it be that there are too many cooks in the kitchen with this platform?
Microsoft is the classic case of the company that didn't always have the best-of-breed software platforms, but was able to become dominant and leverage its dominance to gain more influence. It's possible that OpenStack would benefit from one dominant vendor emerging with the best distribution and top-notch support.
In a recent post, noted open source thinker Matt Asay writes:
"What OpenStack needs to succeed has less to do with interoperable implementations of the OpenStack reference architecture and more to do with a single vendor imposing standardization on the community. That's right. OpenStack needs a hegemon."
That may rub some open source purists the wrong way, but Asay is probably right. There is a lack of standardization when it comes to OpenStack distributions and service and support. Inevitably, we are going to see arguments arising on this topic that are very similar to the old arguments about whether or not Linux benefits from so many forks.
"No one talks about Amazon Web Services interoperability," Asay adds in his post. Indeed, Amazon remains the 800-pound gorilla in the cloud because it dominated early and set rock solid standards before others did.
We are already seeing some divergences from original strategies in the OpenStack camp. In a major announcement from Dell Computer recently, the company announced that its public cloud ecosystem and strategy will be centered on partners Joyent, ScaleMatrix and ZeroLag, and will emphasize recent acquisition Enstratius. That represented a very major reversal of its plans to deliver public cloud services based on OpenStack.
Granted, there are some important points of differentiation among the OpenStack service providers. For example, some are very focused on public cloud services and some are focused on private clouds. Players like Red Hat are adamant that hybrid clouds will rule the day.
But there can still be a dominant OpenStack-focused company focused on all of these strategic pillars. Increasingly, it looks like OpenStack could benefit from the power of one.