Should OpenStack Embrace AWS?

Thursday July 25, 2013,

3 min Read

Randy Bias, CTO CloudScaling, a cloud pioneer and OpenStack board member, wrote an open letter to the OpenStack community today about the need to embrace AWS/ AWS API. It is timed interestingly, with OpenStack 3rd birthday celebrations this week all around the globe. A lot lined up with him (here, here and here to cite a few), some of them not.


I also followed up Randy via comments and got few things clarified. Before the media makes it a schism of OpenStack community around AWS vs non-AWS, here is my understanding of Randy's post and my view points.

1) Embracing AWS enables OpenStack based Hybrid clouds

Randy is in vantage position to see what customers want. His push towards AWS compliance comes from the customers approaching him. While there was some confusion around what is AWS compatibility (AWS API vs AWS cloud like architecture), his comments clarify that it is more than just API level compatibility. The need for commonality between private cloud and AWS public cloud in order for Hybrid cloud to work well. This could be achieved at the API level, or even better at the architecture level (For instance, if my private cloud stores files as blocks, it is easier to put them in Amazon S3. However, if I have them in some weird format, it won't).

Randy also made the need for a standard architecture for OpenStack clouds clear.

2) AWS Compatible Cloud is just one flavor, not the ONLY flavor

As much as Randy pushes for AWS compatibility, he believes that OpenStack can enable/ support multiple clouds. He considers AWS to be dominant cloud, but nevertheless is not rejecting others (please see his comment responses).

3) AWS or VmWare is partner, not enemy

I couldn't agree more to this. It would help the end customers if major players treat each others as partners or frenemies, but not enemies. Ultimately, the customer wins. No need for provincial or parochial attitudes here (as much as I despise monopoly, I also think it is not zero sum game. It is a huge pie, everybody is going to win. Just don't call someone the winner yet)

My view points

1) Should OpenStack standardize against AWS APIs?

Again, the focus is on the architecture, not the APIs. Aligning with AWS APIs is one way of doing it, but not the only way. Randy's proposal includes other major public cloud provider APIs and building a low level API that enables bridging between these (ignore the so-called pundits' reading of this letter as need to align with AWS APIs alone).

2) Is OpenStack doomed if it doesn't align with AWS?

My take is no. As much as AWS is a dominant player in public cloud, OpenStack is clearly winning Private Cloud space. My take on Hybrid cloud is that, the use cases are so unique, it is difficult to model them. Successful implementations so far have been built with lot of internal efforts (and not with support from cloud management platforms). I suspect the need for such customizations would dominate the hybrid cloud requirements. So, I don't see this alignment that would be something make-or-break for hybrid cloud customers. Please correct me if I am wrong.