Blog Post

Hey VMware: You love OpenStack now, right? So why the smack talk?

Wow, talk about passive-aggressive. On Monday, as VMware announced “VMware-integrated OpenStack” to make it easier to bridge VMware and OpenStack environments, VMware’s CEO threw OpenStack under a bus.

Most VMware users “sort of yawn” when the topic is OpenStack, Pat Gelsinger told the Wall Street Journal (registration required): “It’s just not relevant to them.”

Okay, I get it. [company]VMware[/company] wants to lure OpenStack users into its camp, to make OpenStack “enterprise-ready.” It’s a member of the OpenStack Foundation by virtue of its Nicira acquisition, and as VMware CTO Chris Wolf told me last week, VMware’s contributions to OpenStack are nothing to be sneezed (or yawned) at.

So why would VMware’s top guy dismiss OpenStack even as he wants to woo OpenStack users? It’s counterproductive. For one thing, VMware still has a credibility issue with the open source–oriented contingent that views its technology as proprietary and expensive. It also faces an array of earlier-to-the-party OpenStack players —  [company]Red Hat[/company], [company]IBM[/company], [company]HP[/company] — who are already well down that enterprise OpenStack track.

VMware is in an interesting situation. It pretty much owns server virtualization inside big companies’ on-premises data centers. But it’s seen that core virtualization business under fire. And, when it comes to public cloud it’s behind the eight-ball compared to [company]Amazon Web Services[/company], and now [company]Microsoft[/company] and [company]Google[/company] options. So it not only needs to keep existing VMware shops on the reservation, but attract new business as well. That’s where OpenStack comes in.

Sure, OpenStack has its problems. It’s still a collection of modules that need to be knit together and and tested. But it also has a large cadre of devoted followers, many of whom still see VMware as the enemy. Comments like this aren’t helping.

VMware has long been of two minds on OpenStack. Gelsinger previously said it’s not ready for enterprise use but also pledged support, so his comment here follows in that tradition. But that circles back to VMware’s primary problem, which is that many enterprises (not just open source fanatics) see VMware’s technologies — referred to collectively by some as vSoup — as pricey and smacking of vendor lock-in.

[company]Sony[/company], [company]Disney[/company], [company]Best Buy[/company], [company]Comcast[/company], [company]Wells Fargo[/company] and, yes, Paypal, use OpenStack. That’s not a yawn.  So to say that VMware shops — and I’m betting all of the aforementioned companies fall into that category — are not interested in OpenStack is just not true.

10 Responses to “Hey VMware: You love OpenStack now, right? So why the smack talk?”

  1. Jesse Proudman

    The “VMware” Tax topic is a fascinating one.

    The interesting thing about this announcement is that it doesn’t solve that actual cost issue. You’re still paying 100% of the licensing for all the underlying technology. This just gives you then OpenStack interfaces and APIs on top.

    Will be interesting to see how VMware addresses that once pricing is announced.

  2. justinnemmers

    I had a VMware rep tell me, re: OpenStack… “We’ll be happy to sell a customer OpenStack that wants a vCloud-like experience with a lower cost,” he continued, “but they’ll realize soon enough that they need vCloud, and we’ll be happy to sell it to them.”

    This approach actually reminds me of what Microsoft was known to do: “Embrace, extend, extinguish.” VMware’s approach to OpenStack (and Docker) feels very similar.

  3. David Grafton

    Barb is 100% right… but it also goes deeper. People active inside the OpenStack community know very well that VMware is using OpenStack as a hedge because one of the top drivers for adopting OpenStack (according to Gartner) is to move off of VMware because of costs. If you look at most of the code contributions VMware has made, they are mostly for VMware ecosystem enablement.

  4. Sarbjeet Johal

    When talking to CIOs most often you need to have a low cost option on the table, I believe VMware is going to use OpenStack in this context most of the time. VMware knows that their solution is price sensitive. Hence the OpenStack card!

    Another twist is that VMware needs to appeal to cloud service providers and for many of them VMware solution does not scale (from management point of view). Hence the OpenStack card!

    I believe cloud has pulled technology providers into different directions, serving enterprises is a different game than serving service providers and forking solutions is a tough thing to do, so technology providers are grappling with the situation.

    Look where VMware ended up landing, now they have to compete with technology providers nod services providers.

  5. Ed Czerwin

    Why don’t they get people who understand tech to actually write these articles? They kind of wind up very vague otherwise.. kind of like this one…

    • @ed czerwin you want details? Try reading the press release:

      VMware Integrated OpenStack is a new solution that will enable IT organizations to quickly and cost-effectively deliver developer-friendly OpenStack APIs and tools on top of their existing VMware infrastructure. The VMware Integrated OpenStack distribution will leverage VMware’s proven technologies for compute, network, storage and management to provide enterprise-class infrastructure that reduces CAPEX, operational expense (OPEX) and total cost of ownership for production-grade OpenStack deployments. With the VMware Integrated OpenStack distribution, customers can quickly stand up a complete OpenStack cloud to provide API-driven infrastructure for internal developers, and to repatriate workloads from unmanageable and insecure public clouds. IT can manage and troubleshoot an OpenStack cloud with the same familiar VMware tools they already use every day, providing significant operational cost savings and faster time-to-value. Read more about the forthcoming VMware Integrated OpenStack solution here. – See more at:,-Agile,-Secure-Software-Defined-Data-Center/1872819#sthash.Qdernd8j.dpuf

      Does that help at all in terms of technical detail? Nope didn’t think so.

    • Gelsinger comes across as arrogant and smug. Barb got it right — he has offended people in the open source community who have worked hard, as volunteers, to bring OpenStack to market. There’s nothing vague about that fact.