If AWS is the Walmart of cloud, is OpenStack the Soviet Union?

Marten Mickos Eucalyptus Systems Chris Kemp OpenStack Sameer Dholakia Citrix Structure 2012
Marten Mickos Eucalyptus Systems Chris Kemp OpenStack Sameer Dholakia Citrix Structure 2012

(L to R) Jo Maitland, GigaOM; Chris Kemp, CEO Nebula and co-founder, OpenStack; Sameer Dholakia, Group VP and GM, Citrix; Marten Mickos, CEO, Eucalyptus Systems<br />(c)2012 Pinar Ozger pinar@pinarozger.com

The stage was set for a lively debate between public cloud rivals at GigaOM Structure in San Francisco Thursday – representatives from Citrix, Eucalyptus and the OpenStack project certainly delivered. Nebula CEO and OpenStack co-founder Chris Kemp didn’t even get past the introductions before he challenged his fellow panelists on their “closed” cloud implementations and embrace of Amazon Web Services’ API, which he compared to the Walmart of infrastructure.

“It’s reasonably fast, reasonably priced and reasonably secure,” Kemp said, which is why it has the lion’s share of the cloud business today. But AWS will never be incredibly fast or incredibly secure, Kemp said, and while AWS may be emerging as a de facto standard, it doesn’t change the fact its API is proprietary. “I don’t think a de facto standard is a standard,” he said.

Kemp took Citrix and Eucalyptus to task for reinforcing Amazon’s dominance rather than embracing the OpenStack project. As you can imagine, Eucalyptus Systems CEO Marten Mickos and Citrix Systems Cloud Platforms Group GM Sameer Dholakia took exception to Kemp’s claims, particularly his characterization of their cloud platforms as closed.

Both pointed out that their platforms are open-source, just like OpenStack, but Kemp refused to accept that definition, saying the companies developed the core of platform internally and then released their software to the open-source community. Kemp contrasted that with the OpenStack, which is developed top-to-bottom by its broad membership with no large company having any outsized influence.

Dholakia countered that having a tight-knit group of engineers develop the core code and then releasing it is actually an ideal approach, since it provides a “rock solid” base from which the open-source community can build. Citrix recently abandoned OpenStack to pursue its own open-source rival CloudStack, which it has released to the Apache Software Foundation – so the wound to OpenStack may still be a bit raw.

Mickos went on the offensive, comparing OpenStack to the Soviet Union – a collective farm ostensibly run for the good of its members, but where nothing is actually accomplished. Eucalyptus is moving in the same direction its customers are heading – and that direction is overwhelming toward AWS, he said. When another public cloud API emerges as a legitimate challenger, Eucalyptus will support it, Mickos said. If that challenger is OpenStack, Mickos said he would welcome its API, but he’s not holding his breath.

“We’re very happy to support the next [API], but I have no idea what it will be,” Mickos said.

Check out the rest of our Structure 2012 coverage, as well as the live stream, here.

Watch live streaming video from gigaomstructure at livestream.com

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