Is OpenStack private cloud weird?

OpenStack is weirdIt may be all too fitting that the OpenStack organization chose Austin as the venue for this year’s annual North American Summit. One of Austin’s many slogans is “Keep Austin Weird”. And to many traditional IT organizations, OpenStack may seem to be a bit of a tech oddity.

According to a recent ESG survey on hybrid cloud trends, only 14% of 308 IT professionals surveyed indicated that they were planning on utilizing open source solutions, like OpenStack, as the foundation for their private cloud environments. The vast majority (85%), on the other hand, stated they planned to use proprietary private cloud software, like VMware and Microsoft, as the basis for their private cloud strategy.

While these survey results may make OpenStack appear as a technology outlier, it is interesting to note that 80% of those businesses utilizing proprietary cloud technologies are also using open source cloud infrastructure software in a limited capacity (52%) or are testing it (28%). This data point could indicate that over the long term, OpenStack could very well indeed challenge the supremacy of the private cloud industry incumbents.

And perhaps we are starting to see some of these green shoots already in action. German automaker Volkswagen recently announced that they had decided to standardize on Mirantis’ distribution of OpenStack to build out next-generation private cloud capabilities across their global data center environment. And while they have no plans to dismantle their VMware infrastructure any time soon, they intimated that it would eventually be subsumed as their OpenStack deployment matured.

Perhaps most telling are the comments that Volkswagen’s VP of IT, Mario Muller, made regarding their decision to choose OpenStack as their strategic cloud platform:

"OpenStack is the largest open source project and backed by hundreds of technology vendors and tens of thousands of community contributors around the world. No single proprietary vendor, over time, will be able to keep up with the innovation cycles of OpenStack’s open source development model."

Many have made the analogy that OpenStack could follow in the disruptive technology footsteps of Linux. That revolution gave rise to Red Hat and drove the market share fortunes of Sun Solaris and other proprietary Unix variants into the tech gutter. OpenStack could be on the cusp of a similar sea change which could similarly disrupt today’s proprietary private cloud players.

I’ll be listening for more stories like Volkswagen’s while in attendance at the OpenStack summit later this month. If end-user sentiment is anything like Volkswagen’s IT chief's, it could mean trouble ahead for the VMwares of the world.

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Topics: Networking