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Charles Babcock
Charles Babcock
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CloudStack Vs. OpenStack Debate Rages On

Cloudscaling CTO Randy Bias jumps into fray, but does it really matter which private cloud open source code is the most "Amazon like"?

Cloudscaling CTO Randy Bias posted an insightful blog April 7 on GigaOm about the CloudStack project established at the Apache Software Foundation last week. Some CloudStack proponents, in the process of lauding its merits, denigrated an existing open source project, OpenStack.

Bias is an OpenStack advocate, and his detailed take on Citrix Systems' CloudStack move had just the right cadence, a measured response by someone who knows both systems well.

This debate reflects a larger one going on inside many IT shops. Cloud computing looks like it's here to stay, but many companies wish to first work with a private cloud inside their own doors before venturing out onto the public cloud, such as Amazon's EC2 infrastructure-as-a-service. How to build that private cloud is a hotly debated topic.

One possibility is OpenStack, an open source code project started in July 2010 with the backing of NASA. It also had the active backing of Rackspace, which was motivated to contribute its own Storage Files code as OpenStack's Swift storage service to help get the project out of the starting blocks. If OpenStack code won acceptance inside companies, then Rackspace's business prospects would be enhanced as private users of OpenStack turned to a compatible, public service provider for hybrid cloud operations.

[ Learn more about how OpenStack is faring in the open marketplace. See With Rackspace Cloud, OpenStack Goes Primetime. ]

Rackspace encouraged the OpenStack project in several ways, with Rackspace supplying quarters for design meetings and Rackspace employees taking leadership roles in the organization. Many technology firms liked the idea that there would be an open source alternative to Amazon Web Services, but they nevertheless had reservations about a project led by Rackspace, with so much self interest at stake. Some of those doubts were resolved April 12 with the announcement of the OpenStack Foundation, which took over governance of the project.

Just ahead of the OpenStack Foundation debut came the announcement of an alternative open source project, Citrix's donation of CloudStack code to the Apache Software Foundation. had an advanced version of OpenStack that it said was easy to implement. After acquiring Citrix urged that CloudStack become the rallying point for those who want an alternative to proprietary cloud architectures. At the same time, however, Citrix claimed that CloudStack was not only more advanced than OpenStack, but also more Amazon-like than the alternatives.

Thus, the Citrix move, while increasing choices, was also a little confusing. Do we really need two competing, and in some ways similar, projects? As if to address that point, Bias entered the debate with his April 7 blog post that attempted to deal with the "more Amazon-like" issue.

Bias declared his leanings right off the bat: He supports OpenStack as CTO of Cloudscaling, whose cloud operating system, Open Cloud OS, is based on OpenStack. One wishes the proponents of CloudStack could have declared their biases and self interest as straightforwardly. Do Citrix executives dislike the fact that the OpenStack project is focusing more on open source KVM than Xen, on which Citrix products are based? To me, that's one of the unstated reasons why Citrix wanted to create an alternative project. Also, if OpenStack becomes the standard bearer, that leaves Citrix with little return on its reported $200 million-plus payment for last July.

Bias, though a member of the OpenStack camp, was also behind one of the largest implementations of CloudStack before Citrix's purchase. He was the principal architect behind Korea Telecom's (KT's) transition from telecommunications provider to cloud services/telecom provider, as CTO of Cloudscaling. He is also a former CTO of GoGrid, so he knows the ins and outs of cloud infrastructure.

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