Should VMware be jealous?

EMC: OpenStack is the new Linux, so we’re jumping on board

Elliot Bentley

“The surprising thing is just how much serious interest has emerged in the last six months or so,” says marketing CTO.

Another industry giant has jumped on board the OpenStack bandwagon, joining HP, IBM, RackSpace, Red Hat and many others.

This time it’s memory specialists EMC, who as of yesterday are now ‘Corporate Sponsors’ of the OpenStack Foundation.

This isn’t the group’s first foray into OpenStack: in September, its subsidiary VMware was controversially approved as a gold member – despite many feeling that OpenStack directly competes with its products.

In a refreshingly frank blog post, VP Global Marketing CTO (no, we’re not sure what that title actually means either) Chuck Hollis explains the reasoning behind the move:

Over the last year, we’ve been informally talking with customers and partners about their interest in OpenStack. The surprising thing is just how much serious interest has emerged in the last six months or so.

Essentially, if EMC’s customers are increasingly running OpenStack, then the company must support the cloud platform, too. Hollis also covers the thorny issue of a potential conflict of interests with VMware, insisting that “markets demand choices” and pointing out that EMC has already integrated their tech with Microsoft’s cloud stack.

The blog post doesn’t suggest that EMC will be producing their own distribution, but instead utilise their membership to ensure their memory hardware works well with existing elements of OpenStack such as block storage project Cinder.

He then goes on to emphasise the parallels between OpenStack and Linux, in the way that it has become a solid base for a variety of products which EMC will soon be expected to support:

Much like Linux has matured into a serious enterprise operating environment, OpenStack is visibly on much the same trajectory. And the OpenStack Foundation is the key industry nexus point for the evolution of a growing number of different-flavored distributions and editions.

Hollis is far from the first person to describe OpenStack as the ‘Linux of the Cloud’. But he also holds a unique perspective, having worked at EMC for sixteen years and having spearheaded EMC’s initial adoption of Linux in the early 2000s.

Again, this comparison could be seen as a snub to VMware, whose CTO has repeatedly stated that Cloud Foundry’s goal is to be the ‘Linux of the cloud’. Or perhaps it is simply a sensible business decision based on consumer preferences: after all, VMware is a tiny slice of EMC’s multi-billion-dollar business.

Photo by Dave Conner.

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