Commercial Support for OpenStack on the Horizon

A change that was very palpable at the recent OpenStack conference is that a number of major industry players are readying commercial offerings around implementing OpenStack clouds. Today Citrix officially threw its hat into the ring, announcing Project Olympus, which lets any customer build a private or public cloud based on “a Citrix-certified version of OpenStack and a cloud-optimized version of Citrix XenServer.” Citrix is also working closely with Dell and RackSpace in their offering to provide reference architecture and hardware as well as deployment services. The top-level bit here is that the commercial side of OpenStack continues to see healthy growth and there is little doubt that there will be a number of solid commercial offerings around OpenStack soon.  Where there’s real cloud usage, of course, you’ll also find RightScale – and we’re working closely with Citrix and other OpenStack providers to share our experience and enable RightScale support for their cloud offerings.

Citrix’s OpenStack announcement is especially notable given that it comes from the company that provides the hypervisor that has the longest history and powers more virtual servers than any other in the cloud today: Xen. So it will be interesting to see what it means to have a “cloud-optimized version of XenServer” under the covers of Citrix’s OpenStack. That also brings another question to the forefront: what will it mean to have several flavors of OpenStack? Citrix uses the phrase “version of OpenStack,” Jim Curry (RackSpace) uses the phrase “OpenStack distribution,” and Barton George (Dell) also uses “OpenStack Distro.” It is clear they’re not just talking about a little packaging since, for example, Citrix states “Project Olympus will come pre-integrated with the Citrix Cloud Networking fabric.” In other words, it will have functionality different from “stock” OpenStack.

From a selfish point of view I’m wondering how many versions or distros of OpenStack we will have to support and how compatible they will be with one another? Of course, to be fair, other private cloud offerings also contain variants such as having multiple networking modes that differ substantially from one another and that we support. This form of flexibility is a clear need. But for the larger community it will be intereting to see how things play out. At this point, my expectation is that this represents healthy differentiation and innovation in the OpenStack community, and we’ll continue to work with the various vendors to ensure we can support the architectures they’re implementing.

With the advent of these commercial OpenStack offerings, we’re witnessing a new emergence of reference architectures and an ecosystem of major players who can deliver complete IaaS solutions to enterprises and service providers who want to stand up and deliver clouds that can be managed by RightScale. Ultimately, that means more choice for our customers.