Many people like to tell me that OpenStack is doomed. Common criticisms are about how disorganised the committee’s are, the vendors aren’t getting along, the contributions even, code quality is not consistent and that enterprises will never use it.
Knowing How the Sausage Is made
Everyone likes sausages but not everyone wants to make them. For sure I love sausages and, before children, I used to make my own. My brother and I would head out to butcher in the morning to buy 20 kilos of beef and pork, 4 cartons of beer and various accessories. Then we would spend Saturday afternoon drinking steadily while we made every crazier variations on the idea of “sausage”. Beer & Cheese, Chilli & Toffee, BBQ Sauce, Kebab Duster were just some of crazier beer-fueled ideas.
Then around mid-afternoon we would fire up the barbecue when our friends arrived with bread and salad (and more beer) to begin the feasting.
OpenStack (Sausage Making Without the Beer)
The thing about open projects is that they are open. Unlike commercial products, you don’t see the sausage being made. The team that builds Hyper-V or vCAC have similar discussions where competing interests inside a single company fight, bitch, argue and back stab to get their vision included.
And you don’t see the failures, missteps or downright dumb decisions in corporate project. Some ideas don’t work out and features are abandoned, or delayed. Maybe the code of a particular team is so bad that there are huge internal arguments. During the product inception and development, the sausage meat is being chopped and ground ready to the go into the gut casing. Lots of hard work, not much visible deliverable.
In the OpenStack foundation, however, all of this is done in the open. Anyone can see the debates, arguments, and join in. I can tell you it was a lot harder to make sausages when there are 5 half-drunken buddies standing around offering advice on the mix and what spices to add!
And in OpenStack, there are many hands getting involved. Corporations who compete in other markets, people who might not like each other, good coders, bad coders, people with dysfunctional lives. It’s all part of the open source mix.
Cloud and COTS Cloud
When you purchase a “public cloud solution”, you are buying a sausage that has been made for you. All nicely packaged and prepared with a reassuringly expensive price tag and promises of the best ingredients and top quality butchering.
When you implement a private cloud, you are more involved with making the sausage. If you choose Hyper-V or vCloud sausage then you have picked up a “sausage making kit”. Just mix the ingredients as per the instructions and, voila, there you go.
But, OpenStack combined with OpenDaylight, clustered storage, KVM and the various open cloud orchestration systems ? That’s a team effort where you have to make the sausage yourself and it will be the best sausage your ever tasted.
I find it very difficult to see how commercial cloud products that compete with OpenStack will be successful in the long run. No matter how hard I try, the cost analysis of tools like Cisco Prime, CA Cloud, BMC CLM seem to lack compelling vision and value. On the other hand, OpenStack still has a journey ahead to become mainstream. The path of Linux shows that OpenStack will be successful in the long run. Linux shows is that OpenStack is likely to outlast corporation and commercial interests.
Don’t mis-understand the process of making the OpenStack sausage. It’s messy, bloody and confusing. But everyone loves sausages in the end. And OpenStack will be ready for you at some point in the future.