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Summary:

A Structure conference panel discussing the state of open source cloud computing agreed that open source clouds need to get easier to use, but not on much else.

Marten Mickos, Eucalyptus Systems; Chris Kemp, Nebula; and Sameer Dholakia of Citrix Systems work hug over the open cloud.

There’s a lot of debate in the cloud computing world over which open source project will carry the day, but it’s possible that’s the wrong discussion. The balance in enterprise IT is shifting toward open source software, Citrix’s Sameer Dholakia noted at the Structure conference on Thursday, so it’s kind of foolish to argue for one open source technology against the other.

“Nobody asks … ‘Are there too many proprietary cloud solutions out there?'” Dholakia said.

However, he noted later, open source technologies — including Citrix’s own CloudStack — have failed to deliver on products that can really mirror public cloud leader Amazon Web Services in terms of usability. “The No. 1 barrier is [users'] ability to adopt,” he said.

Marten Mickos, CEO of the AWS-compatible private-cloud provider Eucalyptus Systems, agreed with the point — for everyone else’s cloud technology. “If you have too much money, you buy VMware. If you have too much time, you buy OpenStack,” he joked, referring to the notoriously difficult deployment process for the popular platform.

Chris Kemp, co-founder of Nebula, acknowledged as much, especially about OpenStack technology that he helped build and upon which his company is based. Nebula, he noted, has built a turnkey product out of OpenStack in order to make it something companies can consume with ease.”OpenStack isn’t a product, and I think a lot of people confuse it,” he said. “… It’s more like a toolkit.”

Mickos, whose company is built to fully support and in many ways mimic the AWS experience, did say he’d consider supporting other open source clouds assuming they can eventually get their acts together. He’s supporting AWS tightly because it has such as large percentage of the cloud marketplace and his company is going where the demand is. A whole generation of developers is growing up on AWS, and they’ll want that same experience when they deploy in their own data centers.

When OpenStack gets to be a real player in the public cloud, Mickos said, “we’ll support the OpenStack API.”

Photo by Jakub Mosur

Structure 2014 ticker

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