Cloud computing continues to get adopted by enterprises of all sizes, in every corner of the globe.
The OpenStack cloud technology platform, in turn, has benefited, emerging as one of the leading open source standards for cloud computing.
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Recent efforts by Amazon and Microsoft to expand their public cloud platforms, however, point to a key OpenStack vulnerability – the sheer complexity of the platform.
As enterprises have flocked to the cloud, the main attractions of OpenStack have always been clear. Being open source helps avoid being locked into any one particular vendor platform.
The scalability of the platform ensures that it can support an enterprise as their cloud computing needs and usage grow. And the modularity of the platform means that its flexible enough to meet diverse requirements while supporting innovation and operational efficiency.
Seems like a slam dunk for any enterprise getting into the cloud. Moves from leading public cloud players, however, would argue otherwise.
Consider Amazon’s announced plans to more tightly integrate its AWS public cloud with Red Hat’s OpenShift platform, allowing customers to manage AWS public cloud resources on-premises.
Or its deal to house VMware workloads on bare metal servers within AWS data centres.
Or Microsoft’s partnerships with Cisco, Dell, EMC, HPE and Lenovo aimed at targeting their customers with its Azure Stack solution, playing to their interest in the interoperability between their on-premises private cloud resources and the Microsoft Azure public cloud, but also the simplicity of deploying, using and maintaining the Azure Stack platform.
In each case the message is clear: the flexibility of OpenStack comes with deployment, management and operations complexity, all of which public cloud heavyweights are poised to exploit.
Yet, if complexity remains OpenStack’s Achilles Heel, broad support from a myriad of vendors may be its saviour.
Vendors ranging from Canonical, Dell EMC and IBM to Mirantis, Red Hat and VMware, for example, have responded to the complexity of the core OpenStack platform by developing their own OpenStack distributions.
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These package OpenStack services and capabilities into turnkey solutions that include full deployment support and even training and certification programs to help enterprise customers get up and running with OpenStack environments.
Meanwhile, new models – such as managed private clouds operated as a service – for delivering and consuming OpenStack have emerged. These promise to make it quicker and easier for enterprises to get up and running with an OpenStack cloud.
For small and mid-sized enterprises that want a dedicated OpenStack private cloud, but which lack the in-house IT skills and resources to manage it themselves, these can be a popular option.
Beyond simply patching up OpenStack with a band aid of simplicity, however, supporters will need to remain vigilant in reasserting the relative benefits and advantages of OpenStack, as well as continuing to address its complexity while offering a broad and flexible range of delivery options.
If they falter, we already know who will be ready to pounce.