The chips are down

IBM goes all-in on OpenStack

Chris Mayer

Big Blue feels it’s time to open up their cloud architecture ahead of OpenStack’s Grizzly release.

OpenStack, the collaborative cloud infrastructure project, has received a huge boost with the news that IBM will be basing its entire cloud architecture on the open source technology.

With the company having joined the OpenStack Foundation as a Platinum Member in April 2012, the move should hardly come as a surprise. However, until now Big Blue were extremely coy on where OpenStack would fit into their company.

That is, until yesterday’s IBM Pulse Conference, where they revealed the first step would be to offer a new private cloud based on OpenStack, before moving the rest of the portfolio across. This is good news for IBM’s customers, who are now able to mix and match between OpenStack software and hardware vendors, effectively eliminating vendor lock-in.

Alongside the announcement, IBM revealed two proprietary tools for managing OpenStack instances. The first is SmartCloud Orchestrator, used to control applications across public and private clouds. Users can monitor the lifecycle of the application, while being shown the configurations of compute, storage and networking resources in a graphical interface. In addition, IBM have unveiled SmartCloud Monitoring Application Insight for monitoring applications in real-time, and two further beta programs surrounding analytics, which are currently unnamed.

The company say the move “will ensure that innovation in cloud computing is not hampered by locking businesses into proprietary islands”.

“History has shown that open source and standards are hugely beneficial to end customers and are a major catalyst for innovation,” said Robert LeBlanc, IBM senior vice president of software. “Just as standards and open source revolutionized the Web and Linux, they will also have a tremendous impact on cloud computing.”

OpenStack Executive Director, Jonathan Bryce told IT World Canada that IBM’s decision to “make it a core part of their cloud strategy” is “huge” for the OpenStack community.

While IBM isn’t one of the biggest cloud names out there, going all-in on OpenStack alongside other aspiring companies could help give them at least a tilt at undisputed champion Amazon Web Services. In turn, Big Blue’s backing of the infrastructure project does help cement its maturity – a constant stumbling block in OpenStack’s three years of existence.

As a founding member of the OpenStack Foundation, IBM were almost certainly going to open up their architecture once a number of major releases had been met. The seventh, Grizzly, is scheduled for April and IBM feel the time is right to put their enterprise weight behind it just prior to its arrival. The question is – which other foundation vendors will be following their lead?

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