Cats vs. Cows—Which Cloud Do You Have?
Is your private cloud ecosystem a cat or a cow? For most people, cats are each unique, while cows are like snowflakes, not identical, but for all practical purposes indistinguishable.
Do you find that you are treating your private cloud like a pampered and spoiled pet cat that requires expensive care and feeding? If you are, then maybe it is time to start treating your cloud infrastructure more like a consumable commodity like hamburgers—cheap, reliable, and interchangeable. Cloud computing resources should be built and managed like food—not pets.
The master purveyor of public cloud computing, Amazon, clearly has gotten the cow cloud message, but there is now a sustainable alternative to the traditional IT infrastructure cats for enterprises that need private clouds to meet cost, security, and governance requirements.
After several years of uncertainty about which systems were going to survive as the private cloud platforms of choice, with a few exceptions, the answer has now boiled down to either proprietary VMware or open source OpenStack.
Yes, CloudStack is still hanging in there, mostly with Citrix’s backing and somewhat more integrated tooling, as is Eucalyptus, courtesy of Amazon, but the momentum for OpenStack is building rapidly.
VMware continues to push its vCloud products as the right answer to the increasing need for hybrid clouds as companies find their business units already heavily invested in shadow public cloud application deployments. While VMware certainly has the support of the traditional infrastructure IT department, it is not certain that their cloud product suite has the right integration tools to support true hybrid architectures across heterogeneous public and private clouds.
On the open source side, the April 2013 OpenStack Summit represented a turning point for this just under three-year-old open source cloud platform project. Never before has the Summit felt more like a real business conference with a clear-eyed agenda to architect a stable and viable enterprise-ready cloud platform—rather than just a bunch of wild developers on a mission to save the world.
After several years of intense development and shakedown, the OpenStack ecosystem is finally more than ready to take on the unique challenges of enterprises that want to deploy private and hybrid clouds with a simple modular architecture and a sensible path for the next generation of public and private clouds.
Even though there are plenty of interoperability issues to be worked out—Why are HP Cloud Services and RackSpace Cloud not fully compatible?—at least the OpenStack Foundation is tackling the issues head on instead of pretending that API calls will solve everything.
Have you been patiently waiting for a less expensive and easier alternative to VMware for your enterprise cloud deployment? Do you find cloud promises for the enterprise coming up more vaporware than reality?
The wait is finally over. The more than 2,800 engineers, vendors, and users who attended the Summit know that OpenStack will deliver on the need for a cheap, reliable, private cow clouds.