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Cloud Stack Wars: Tough Questions

HP, Verizon Terremark and VMware executives back different cloud stacks, leaving us with important private cloud questions. Let's explore some chinks in the armor.

7 Vendors To Watch At Cloud Connect Chicago 2013
7 Vendors To Watch At Cloud Connect Chicago 2013
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On Wednesday, Oct. 23, I'm going to have the chance to discuss the current cloud stack wars with proponents of three different stacks at Cloud Connect Chicago. While many carriers and providers mix virtualization and orchestration tools, these three organizations are aligned with three distinct technology stacks:

-- HP has embraced OpenStack strongly, and I'll be joined by Monty Taylor.

-- Verizon Terremark has a significant role in CloudStack deployments, and Jim Anthony will be participating.

-- VMware has its own suite of virtualization and cloud tools for both public and private environments, which Mathew Lodge will be able to speak to.

A couple of weeks ago, I postulated that today's cloud platforms are in a race similar to that of operating systems a few decades ago. Greg DeKoenigsberg of Eucalyptus posted an excellent rebuttal, in which he speculated that, if cloud stacks are operating systems, my analysis "would make Eucalyptus the open source little brother that the System/360 never had, that has no analogue in the history books, and that could have changed everything."

[ Trying to explain disruptive technology to colleagues? First rule: Don't talk about disruptive technology. Read more: Disruptive Technology: Follow Fight Club Rules. ]

After all this discussion, I'm eager to tackle how some of these cloud platforms are competing with one another. I've got a long list of questions, some focused on where private cloud tools in general are headed, and some specific to each stack. I'm hoping we'll get to at least a few of them on stage during our discussion.

Here are some of my generic questions about how clouds are evolving:

-- Is the Amazon Web Services API the equivalent of Cisco's command line interface? How important it is for a cloud platform to be semantically compatible with AWS?

-- Who is the real customer in an enterprise? Is it the CIO, or are you selling directly to a line of business? In other words, are you an enabler of shadow IT?

-- VMware is developing its own storage tech (vSAN), but primarily expects monolithic vBlock/Flexpod converged solutions. CloudStack is storage agnostic, creating different kinds of storage from a storage system. OpenStack is less so, including SWIFT as a co-founding project. Why are there so many different approaches to storage?

-- Large fortunes have been spent acquiring software defined networking technology for clouds. How critical is it that each cloud stack has its own SDN technology, and how will this be used to differentiate offerings? How will users avoid lock-in when the virtualization, network stack and storage are all from the same cloud "OS"?

-- Gartner says "developers drive public IaaS purchasing." Why is private cloud purchasing being driven by IT?

-- Two cloud stacks aren't here on stage with us. What do you guys think about Microsoft (considered by Gartner to shortly be #2 to AWS and which has a strong private cloud play) and Eucalyptus (the little cloud startup that could) and their roles in the coming stack wars?

I also have questions for specific stack proponents. These aren't very friendly, but it's my job as moderator to identify the chinks in the armor and ask the awkward questions I hear day-to-day from IT professionals with whom I talk about the future of clouds.

Questions For VMware's Mathew Lodge

-- Your product started as a way to consolidate multiple idle machines, then moved into QC and a reduction of moves, adds, and changes, and is now about data center automation. In that journey, you've focused on what IT operations and the CIO want. How are you adjusting that vision to include what end users and developers are after?

-- VMware was so dominant in the virtualization industry that I've had many IT professionals tell me, "I have a cloud" when they, in fact, have virtual machines. Has your earlier success lulled IT into a false sense of complacency about the importance of a service-centric IT strategy?

-- Orchestration platforms like CloudStack and OpenStack can manage you from above; Microsoft's Hyper-V is putting on pressure with a public/private solution; and open-source virtualization tools like KVM and Xen are undermining margins for pure virtualization. As cloud stacks go open source, how do you respond?

-- The new vCloud hybrid service puts you in competition with VMware partners and cloud providers who've built public offerings on your stack. What provoked this change? How have you handled the resulting channel conflict?

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User Rank: Strategist
11/4/2013 | 7:34:26 PM
re: Cloud Stack Wars: Tough Questions
How critical is it that each cloud stack has its own SDN approach? Hopefully, the OpenStack approach to SDN will influence the field. Different software-defined network equipment and applications can plug into the OpenStack Neutron platform. It may be critical to vendors that its chosen stack has its own SDN. It's critical to customers that their network be able to interoperate with different clouds.
User Rank: Strategist
10/29/2013 | 1:30:27 AM
re: Cloud Stack Wars: Tough Questions
It's too soon and too easy to declare a winner in cloud computing. Amazon Web Services may lead at the end of the first round, but this is a 15 round, heavyweight bout.Some of the pugilists are still warming up.
Steve Wylie
Steve Wylie,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/23/2013 | 3:18:51 PM
re: Cloud Stack Wars: Tough Questions
Lots of great discussion /. debate on this topic happening live from Cloud Connect on twitter: #ccevent
User Rank: Author
10/21/2013 | 8:35:46 PM
re: Cloud Stack Wars: Tough Questions
"Earlier this year, Randy Bias famously declared that OpenStack has won, and "the battle is almost over." Was he right?"

I say no. Not almost over.
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