OpenStack - Opportunities Galore


CloudStory readers are no strangers to Openstack (previous coverage) - an open sourced cloud platform started by NASA. With many public cloud service providers like HP,InternapAptira adopting Openstack, it is getting largely accepted for prime time (you can read more success stories here).Comparisons between Linux and Openstack are natural, and many tag Openstack as the Open source OS for Cloud. Such comparisons and excitement around this being open source reminds me of the Linux movement in India in late 90's, along with the lessons learnt. This article attempts to point the opportunities, challenges and how one may overcome them.


1) Data Centers:

It's no secret that India is a honey pot for major cloud service providers. It is natural that Services industry in India is aligned with one or more major players. This is also provides opportunities to numerous Tier2/ Tier3 data centers to move to IaaS model and start taking a pie out of the entire market opportunity cloud provides. This is where Openstack could help.

Going alone against a behemoth may not appear to be a great business decision, but this is where a Federation of Service providers helps. I am not talking about multiple providers or moving around workloads here, but at a first step, just bringing them together on a similar platform places them in a better position.

This also enables whole bunch of SIs/ VARs (for lack of a better name) offering Openstack (MirantisStackops) or Openstack based solutions (PistonCloud) to name a few. I

2) Eco System:

One can go back and forth on how production-ready Openstack is, but I am not interested in those arguments. I understand its current limitations in terms of total number of features it provides. However, I am very positive and confident about the quality of the features it supports. I am also confident about the direction Openstack community is taking. However, I am more interested in the eco-system one can have around it. Do you see piece missing in it - go build it or integrate with an existing one. Many solutions (OpscodePuppetlabs) are already built towards this, and this list can only can extend. Billing? Usage analysis? Orchestration? I am pumped about the number of startups that could be solving such problems in sexier ways. Granted these may be yet-another-feature of bigger platforms, but this also would make these startups good acquisition targets if done correctly.

3) University Research:

Linux opened doors for stronger academic research, resulting in disruptive products - hypervisors, mobile OS, RTOS, efficient files systems, distributed computing tools, the list is endless. Academic community has been the primary audience for Linux in India, and has had a symbiotic relationship since then. I envision similar seminal products coming out of Openstack and academia should grab it right away. Datacenter optimizations? Proactive usage alerts? Venues are endless.


While the initial impedance in moving federal/ governmental assets continues cloud wears away, need for GovCloud like secure/ government only cloud is going to gain momentum in India. While Amazon is better placed to provide such capabilities (natural extension fro their GovCloud), it may not answer specific needs of Indian regulations (if any). I see regional players taking leadership in this, and Openstack based solution will be handy. Though such a secure solution is not strictly software dependent, having a configurable, open platform helps one provide such solution. I understand this is ambitious, but this is a chance for software industry in India to provide leadership than to follow.

I am overall bullish about what Openstack can do, and to Cloud scene in India in particular. I have kept discussions with open source IaaS platform here, and have no doubts that open source PaaS platforms provide similar opportunities when things get matured more.

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1) Amazon is huge:

As much as I like to avoid the clichéd David Vs Goliath analogy, it was true for Linux and is so for Openstack. Surprisingly this analogy works for skeptics! I tend to see as multiple players slicing the market share here, and the contenders need to be levaluated with respective to the entire market share. Yes, someone has an estimated revenue of $1B and has a zillion features. This cannot/ should not stop any strong player to contend - the market share is much higher than these (conservative estimates put the revenues through innovation/ cloud to more than a $1Trillion by 2015) and $1B is just a fraction of it

2) Sticking to servicing

Yes, cloud is the next wave, moving to cloud is the in-thing; AWS/ Azure/fill-with-your-favorite-provider experts are paid in gold. Make use of it, I have no complaints. But, please don't stop there. Previous wave saw a lot of MNCs setting shops in India and attracting local talent for product development (as in not for servicing). Next wave can reverse the trend. Recent economic situations has already tilted the scale in favor of BRIC and so-called developing nations. Indian industry just has to capitalize. Openstack can be a great starter. Innovate.

3) Policy Makers:

Policy makers need to understand the landscape very well and need to be aware of the alternatives. Marketing speak from established players is too tempting to resist. I am not sure how to set this right, may be more education or more visibility. This article is also an open letter to such policy makers to consider open source options before settling down for big players.

From an individual's point of view - build it, they will come!

About the author

Sriram Subramanian is a Cloud Specialist and an Openstack enthusiast. Most recently he was a lead developer at ComputeNext building a Cloud Marketplace. Previously he has worked with companies like Microsoft, Intel and Hitachi, working primarily in Cloud Computing and Virtualization. He currently lives in Greater Seattle Area with his wife and two kids. He is passionate about Cloud Computing, Green Tech and Holistic Living. He enjoy helping early stage startups and enriching startup eco-systems. He can be reached @sriramhere


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