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OpenStack Havana’s stern warning: Provide Differentiated Value or Die

on October 17, 2013

The new OpenStack Havana release sends strong signals to the industry that Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) vendors may suddenly have “irrelevant” stamped on their backs. No matter how elaborate or venerable your existing business may be, proving your value inside the rapidly expanding OpenStack ecosystem is no easy task. This time it is the established PaaS vendors like CloudFoundry and OpenShift who are feeling the heat. A fun guessing game is naming the established players who are next in the stack to get crushed.

Is OpenStack Really just IaaS?

One of the first things Havana has forced us to revisit is the definition of OpenStack as a provider of only Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS). Yes, infrastructure still remains a focus, with major strengthening of the role of Neutron (old Quantum), and the addition of major new features in Nova and Cinder demonstrating that infrastructure innovation is as strong as ever. But OpenStack is tracking an innovation curve surprisingly similar to AWS. Remember that AWS started with low-level infrastructure services such as EC2 and S3 but then quickly pushed up the stack with PaaS-level services such as SimpleDB, EMR and SQS. Well, OpenStack is following the platform-service path with Heat, Trove, Savanna and Marconi, just to name a few.

Evolution to PaaS – Statistics

Let us examine the evolution of Heat and Trove, the two leading platform-level services in OpenStack. According to the statistics, 63 engineers from 20 different companies have contributed more than 90,000 lines of to Heat in Havana. This is quite a departure from where the project had started in Grizzly, with RedHat contributing 97% of the code.

We can see a similar picture in Trove, which was started by just two companies in Grizzly (Rackspace and HP). In Havana, the community is much larger, with Mirantis and Red Hat, eBay and SUSE joining in.

Clearly, OpenStack is moving up the stack into the platform-level services and the community is pushing it there.

Why should you care?

This progression is important because it is an early proof point that OpenStack is going to control not just the low-level infrastructure, but also the whole stack above it. The market is clearly asking for it (which is evident by the success of AWS), and OpenStack has the community momentum and the resources to start the wave that will sweep that demand up the stack.

Have you heard of the successful adoption of Cloud Foundry or OpenShift on top of OpenStack? Well, neither have I, and my prediction is that no such adoption is imminent. Too many times we see our customers exploring OpenShift or Cloud Foundry for a while, and then electing instead to use a combination of Heat for orchestration, Trove for the database, LBaaS for elasticity, then glue it all together with scripts and Python code and have a native and supported solution for provisioning their apps. This is a clear indication that at least for those cases, the value provided by the established PaaS solutions is not enough to justify their use inside the OpenStack ecosystem.

This does not imply that every external solution encountered by the OpenStack commoditization wave will die. On the contrary, the ones with enough value-add will thrive, and the OpenStack community will go a long way in order to enable their adoption. One such example in the application infrastructure space is the open source technology called Hadoop. Its community is distinct from that of OpenStack, and its value is indisputable and differentiated enough. Not surprisingly, rather than attempting to replicate and commoditize Hadoop, the OpenStack community is enabling its adoption through project Savanna.

With external PaaS technologies, the value differentiation is not as clear as in the case of Hadoop and in the long run might not be sufficient to survive commoditization. In fact, my personal opinion is that for the PaaS vendors the OpenStack game is over without even starting.

In Icehouse, OpenStack will continue expanding its feature set, as well as breaking new ground in the areas that have not been covered by its original charter. So, what is next? Cloud and datacenter management?

When OpenStack started, Nimbula (RIP), CloudStack, and Eucalyptus were faced with having to answer the scary question of “how are you different from OpenStack?” It appears today the list of vendors that must answer this question is increasing rapidly.

BMC and CA – you have been put on notice!!!

16 comments

16 Responses

  1. Karel Striegel

    Nice insight on the new release.

    October 18, 2013 01:20

Continuing the Discussion

  1. OpenStack: is it a PaaS killer? The week in cloud — Tech News and Analysis

    [...] have a vivid response to this. Wardley’s post seems at least partly a reaction to an earlier Mirantis blog. There Alex Friedland, co-founder of Mirantis, a member of the OpenStack Foundation, posited that [...]

    October 20, 201309:01
  2. OpenStack: is it a PaaS killer? The week in cloud | 8ballbilliard

    [...] have a vivid response to this. Wardley’s post seems at least partly a reac­tion to an ear­lier Miran­tis blog. There Alex Fried­land, co-founder of Miran­tis, a mem­ber of the Open­Stack Foun­da­tion, [...]

    October 20, 201309:09
  3. Global Tech Review | OpenStack: is it a PaaS killer? The week in cloud

    [...] have a vivid response to this. Wardley’s post seems at least partly a reaction to an earlier Mirantis blog. There Alex Friedland, co-founder of Mirantis, a member of the OpenStack Foundation, posited that [...]

    October 20, 201312:00
  4. OpenStack: is it a PaaS killer? The week in cloud | Earthgrid

    [...] have a vivid response to this. Wardley’s post seems at least partly a reaction to an earlier Mirantis blog. There Alex Friedland, co-founder of Mirantis, a member of the OpenStack Foundation, posited that [...]

    October 21, 201300:43
  5. Mirantis To PaaS Vendors: Stop Fighting OpenStack Gravity - IT Clips

    [...] an under-the-radar systems integration firm that recently launched its OpenStack distribution, blogged the imminent death not of AWS but instead of pure-play PaaS vendors like Cloud Foundry. As Mirantis [...]

    October 25, 201310:18
  6. Mirantis To PaaS Vendors: Stop Fighting OpenStack Gravity « DevelopersArena.com

    [...] an under-the-radar systems integration firm that recently launched its OpenStack distribution, blogged the imminent death not of AWS but instead of pure-play PaaS vendors like Cloud Foundry. As Mirantis [...]

    October 25, 201312:46
  7. Mirantis To PaaS Vendors: Stop Fighting OpenStack Gravity

    [...] an under-the-radar systems integration firm that recently launched its OpenStack distribution, blogged the imminent death not of AWS but instead of pure-play PaaS vendors like Cloud Foundry. As Mirantis [...]

    October 26, 201301:12
  8. eXactBot Hosting Solutions » Mirantis To PaaS Vendors: Stop Fighting OpenStack Gravity

    [...] an under-the-radar systems integration firm that recently launched its OpenStack distribution, blogged the imminent death not of AWS but instead of pure-play PaaS vendors like Cloud Foundry. As Mirantis [...]

    October 27, 201307:06
  9. Dell Open Source Ecosystem Digest #34. Highlight der Ausgabe: “Mirantis - die OpenStack PaaS Strategie im Detail” (englischsprachig) - TechCenter - Blog - TechCenter - Dell Community

    [...] Clearly my original OpenStack Havana blog has hit a nerve. My dramatic tone galvanized the PaaS community and several people vehemently [...]

    November 1, 201309:15
  10. Dell Open Source Ecosystem Digest #34. Issue Highlight: “Mirantis - OpenStack and its PaaS strategy: a deeper look under the covers” - Dell TechCenter - TechCenter - Dell Community

    [...] Clearly my original OpenStack Havana blog has hit a nerve. My dramatic tone galvanized the PaaS community and several people vehemently [...]

    November 1, 201309:17
  11. Does OpenStack understand the value of ecosystems? — Tech News and Analysis

    [...] prove that nobody — and I mean nobody — does open source cloud as well as they do. The Mirantis post that kicked off the controversy about PaaS and OpenStack made clear that projects such as Heat (a [...]

    November 4, 201309:30
  12. Does OpenStack understand the value of ecosystems? | 8ballbilliard

    [...] to prove that nobody — and I mean nobody — does open source cloud as well as they do. The Miran­tis post that kicked off the con­tro­versy about PaaS and Open­Stack made clear that projects such as [...]

    November 4, 201310:11
  13. to whom it may concern | fate = will && choice || circumstance

    [...] I felt there was so much potential. I certainly made an effort to evangelize the project. Now, while many will declare victory, I’m afraid most of that potential will not be realized or worse, that OpenStack will leave a [...]

    November 4, 201316:01
  14. The PaaS shakeup and what it means for OpenStack - by Johan Den Haan

    […] 2013, Alex Freedland (co-founder of Mirantis, a member of the OpenStack Foundation) stirred a fire by declaring war between OpenStack and the PaaS players Cloud Foundry and OpenShift. I am not exaggerating, just look at this […]

    February 26, 201408:01
  15. PaaS Won’t Become a Feature of IaaS: It’s Unnatural | Apprenda

    […] of articles and reports (like this one by David Linthicum, this one  by Brandon Butler, and this fine specimen by Alex Freedland of Mirantis) that predict or speculate on the demise of pure-play PaaS layer […]

    March 12, 201406:00

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