Inside the OpenStack Distribution Wars
For some time now, tension has been building among providers of curated distributions of the OpenStack cloud management framework. On one side, there are providers of commercially supported instances of OpenStack such as Mirantis. On the other, are providers of Linux distributions such as Red Hat that are tightly coupling OpenStack and Linux together.
At an OpenStack Days Silicon Valley event on Aug. 9, Mirantis announced that it has now partnered with SUSE, a rival of Red Hat, to provide a one-stop shop for acquiring Mirantis OpenStack and a distribution of Linux for it to run on at the same time. In addition, the two companies announced they will not only collaboratively provide support for Mirantis OpenStack running on SUSE, but also support for Mirantis OpenStack running on the CentOS distribution and the Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) distribution created by Red Hat.
Mirantis has taken note of the sharp resurgence of interest in SUSE, which over the years was overshadowed by Red Hat when Novell was trying to turn SUSE into a foundation for its next-generation network operating system platform, said Kamesh Pemmaraju, vice president of product marketing for Mirantis. Since then, SUSE has focused its efforts on once again building one of the most robust instances of Linux available today, he said.
Obviously, Mirantis via an alliance with SUSE is looking to apply competitive pressure to Red Hat. Where things get complicated is that OpenStack running on Linux is often squarely positioned as an alternative to deploying commercial instances of VMware software running on Windows systems.
Red Hat not only has a vested interest in its own distribution of OpenStack running on Linux, but it also has a technology alliance with Microsoft. In some open-source quarters, that relationship with Microsoft is seen as problematic because OpenStack doesn't run natively on Windows, even though Microsoft has become more open minded about open-source technologies. As such, any effort to replace VMware with OpenStack, by definition, also means taking out Windows server installations.
For solution providers across the channel, OpenStack is clearly starting to create something of a tangled web. Clearly, interest in OpenStack is picking up. However, many solution providers might find trying to support OpenStack on Linux alongside instances of VMware running on Windows and Linux a very expensive proposition indeed.
Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications, including InfoWorld, CRN and eWEEK. He currently blogs daily for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, Channel Insider and Baseline.