OpenStack: PayPal Will Not be The Only One

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When I read that PayPal will be one of the biggest users of OpenStack, I have no doubt that OpenStack is an important part of cloud computing’s future; it’s not about the hype or the religious conviction that we should have more platforms for private and public computing in the world, it’s also about real facts that I see every day.

In Italy, where I come from, we have already companies using OpenStack to serve public cloud computing services. Enter Cloud Suite comes to my mind, as well as Hosting Solutions (Italian only) and some others. Those are very small companies, less than 100 people, way far from being a 500 Fortune or 100 Fortune company, but still able to install and offer a cloud computing platform with a pay per use payment model and both computing and storage components.

Of course, if you compare OpenStack to AWS, the last one is still a kid in his early years: I’m personally seeing a lot of problems of OpenStack in production and several lacks from a security and management point of view that are scaring some companies when they evaluate it for their cloud computing platform. Don’t get me wrong, OpenStack has great management to create networks, instances and cloud object storage solutions (I was impressed by Swift and SwiftStack) but you cannot expect the AWS console and the powerful ecosystem of services, from computing to databases, that you can run on the Amazon’s side.

Usually, when you read articles about OpenStack and AWS, the writer confuses two segments: companies that are building a cloud computing platform using OpenStack (Hosting Companies, ISP and Telcos) and customers that are using AWS to outsource their workloads in the cloud. Those are 2 different segments, in a very different position.

Well, here I’m speaking about both: customers that are choosing cloud computing platforms based on OpenStack for the public computing as an alternative to AWS and hosting companies/ISP that are in love with OpenStack to start offering cloud computing services where the alternative would be VMware or other big vendors.

3 points: why OpenStack is a great alternative

Still, in this kind of landscape, PayPal will not be the only one using (and investing, don’t forget this aspect) in OpenStack for several reasons:

  • AWS is a great service, the most advanced cloud computing platform right now, but it cannot meet every market and company in the world. In the IT industry, we have a lot of industries where Amazon is still far to be even considered. There are a lot of problems related to this: security and privacy are, of course, the most important barriers to adoption.
  • In some cases, OpenStack is the perfect solution to build a public cloud for a specific country or industry.
  • Even if it lacks a lot of features, OpenStack is becoming an alternative to the “vendors world” of VMware, Microsoft and so on. It’s about investing in an open source platform, on hiring people with development skills that are able to understand and manage all the OpenStack components.

Those are points that are convincing CEOs and CTOs around the world about the OpenStack adoption and sometimes, they are the same arguments that are changing how ISP and hosting providers build their teams: more DevOps and developers and fewer generalist sysadmins.

It’s not a product for everyone. At least now.

Canonical is doing a great job in trying to simplify how OpenStack can be installed and managed, and that is another path to the success of this platform. We can see clearly here why the number of cloud computing jobs is skyrocketing.

OpenStack: a problem of leadership

Openstack summit Hong Kong

There is a great article that underlines why OpenStack is not running as it would be supposed to do. The lack of leadership is probably the biggest problem of this product: Matt Assay of MongoDB Inc. has a clear idea about this.

His solution would be Red Hat, but I think that could be just one of the many ways in which OpenStack could be more powerful.

Building such a complex product in a community ecosystem could be very challenging, it’s clear to me that OpenStack needs a leader that is able to put the ship in the right direction.

Speaking about more general problems, there is another big mistake that OpenStack is not trying to solve and that is, at the same time, the reason for AWS’s success. A community of developers that is totally in love with its cloud services. In OpenStack, this is still something to build from scratch and that could be a real pain.

Why not only PayPal

Enterprise is everyone’s dream. AWS is moving in this direction and OpenStack would love to do the same. PayPal is one great example about how one big company can embrace OpenStack, I believe it will not be the only for a simple reason: today OpenStack is the only reason and VMware and other players are still trying to understand how to move on this.

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