VMware: OpenStack Is Not A Competitor – But Cloud Needs Standards

There is no competition between VMware and OpenStack – the leading open source cloud implementation  – despite recent reports that customers are moving away from the vCloud to OpenStack, according to VMware’s chief technologies in EMEA, Joe Baguley.

While OpenStack provides an open source cloud stack, it works perfectly well with VMware’s vSphere, and VMware is an OpenStack supporter. It does, for example, work with Canonical on an Ubuntu version of OpenStack that runs on VMware’s ESX hypervisor. To avoid cloud lock-in in future will take standards, and Baguley says these are still a way off, leaving CIOs with the difficult task of “curating” public cloud services which might lock them in.

VMware versus OpenStack? It’s the wrong question

“vSphere versus OpenStack is the wrong question entirely,” Baguley told TechWeekEurope, speaking at the VMware Forum in London. “We are a Gold Member of the OpenStack Foundation, and we have teams internally working on providing support in OpenStack for ESX.”

VMware bought DynamicOps last year, which provides hybrid cloud automation, deploying on OpenStack as well as VMware’s products.  The company also owns Nicira: “They are the guys behind the OpenFlow protocol, and Quantum – the networking component of OpenStack,” Baguley noted.

While it is true that eBay subsidiary PayPal may cut its bill with VMware by using more OpenStack in its data centres, VMware is playing a longer game. It still wants  to be the operating system of choice in the converged data centre, and it is embracing hybrid clouds as a route to get there.

“We aren’t focusing the future of the company on specific platforms, it is about hybrid cloud,” said Baguley. These will combine a fully operational private cloud that supports traditional IT features such as fault tolerance and failover, while the future clearly involves using public cloud platforms for scale out and commoditisation, he said.

OpenStack is not a standard, but a set of open source code, and actual standards for commodities such as virtual machines are still a way off, he warned. “We are working on standards such as OVF (the Open Virtualisation Format) with the DMTF,” he said. OVF is a published standard which has already reached its second version.

At the moment, “there are no final cuts of draft cloud standards,” he said, although European standards makers such as ETSI are pushing for them, as part of European Commissioner Neelie Kroes cloud strategy, but it will take a while: “There’s not even an API standard yet.”

Grey clouds are “positive deviance”

Despite this, companies are jumping into the cloud, often against the wishes of their IT department. VMware has sponsored some research from Vanson Bourne which found “covert cloud” was in use in nearly a quarter of organisations, with some spending up to £1500 on their expenses buying in VMs on Amazon Web Services (AWS) or other cloud services.

Instead of fighting it, CIOs should accept they have to compete with these services, said Baguley: “Workers are using unapproved cloud resources to get the job done. That is ‘positive deviance’, it is not malicious. They are doing it for the good of the business.”

CIOs must realise they are in a competitive marketplace, he warned: “They will have to stand up to cloud services and say ‘Ours is better’. And if it isn’t, they will have to accept that. According to this research, being dictatorial isn’t working.”

Previous technologies such as PCs and the Internet found their way into IT against the wishes of CIOs, he said, but the cycle is speeding up. “It took 20 years before there were 100 million business PCs. Tablets reached that in four years.”

To survive in this world, IT staff will have to let staff buy services, but give them help and guidance along the way, he said.

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Peter Judge

Peter Judge has been involved with tech B2B publishing in the UK for many years, working at Ziff-Davis, ZDNet, IDG and Reed. His main interests are networking security, mobility and cloud

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