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Does OpenStack Have a Future in the Private/Hybrid Cloud?

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In “Is OpenStack Dead,” we focused on OpenStack’s future as a public cloud platform. We concluded that Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and VMware would dominate public cloud computing through complete economic and technical control of their stacks. We further concluded that OpenStack would have to be free to cloud computing vendors in order for them to have a financially competitive offering, and further, that IBM, HP, Rackspace, and Red Hat do not have an economic incentive to invest in creating a free cloud platform for service providers worldwide.

The Private Cloud

Before we discuss who is going to win and lose in the private cloud market, let’s first examine why any company would want to stand up a cloud of its own when it can go rent one from Amazon, Microsoft, Google, or VMware. Reasons might include:

  • Most enterprises have on-premises data center virtualization environments. VMware leads this market by a wide margin with vSphere and the vCloud Suite; it is followed by Microsoft with Hyper-V and Red Hat with KVM.
  • Enterprises have transient workloads. Development, test, pilot, and education and training are all workloads that need to be instantiated, run for a period of time, and then torn down. Automating the lifecycle of a transient workload with a private cloud and a service catalog makes a ton of sense for the IT department and for the users of these services.
  • IT departments are under tremendous pressure to improve their agility and responsiveness while refraining from growing, or even while shrinking headcount. Automating the provision of a wide array of services allows IT departments to better serve the business while containing costs.
  • Offering a robust and easy-to-use private cloud to business constituents can “stop workloads from walking out of the door,” which many IT departments view as an existential threat.
  • A private cloud allows IT to offer a standard set of services that transcend pure Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Middleware platforms like Cloud Foundry can be offered up as a service. Desktops can be offered up as a service. Entire multi-tier applications can be offered up as a service.

The Hybrid Cloud

A hybrid cloud allows you to seamlessly move workloads back and forth between your own private cloud in your own data center, a cloud that you own but that happens to run in a data center that you rent, and a true public cloud. So, the promise of the hybrid cloud is that, with maximum flexibility and convenience, workloads can be moved around based on where they are in the lifecycle and on what their production execution requirements are. An enterprise might want a hybrid cloud if:

  • It has some applications that are completely unsuited for public cloud deployment and some that are a natural for public cloud deployment and wants to run each application in the place best suited for it.
  • A new application with security or performance requirements is developed in a public cloud, like Amazon, and the business wants to bring it back in-house to run in production.
  • The enterprise wants to build and test a new application that requires elasticity in-house but then to deploy it at Amazon, because Amazon does a great job of running applications that are very elastic in a cost-effective manner.

The Key Attributes of a Successful Private or Hybrid Cloud Platform

If you are looking for a private or hybrid cloud platform, here are the criteria upon which you should base your decision:

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