Cloud's version of Game of Thrones

Openstack acquires big allies in Red Hat and IBM for OpenStack Foundation

Chris Mayer

The fallout from Citrix’s defection continues as their rival for cloud infrastructure supremacy OpenStack reveals the names forming their OpenStack Foundation

The ripples from Citrix’s decision to break away from OpenStack to push their own IaaS, CloudStack can still be felt as they chose to stay closer to Amazon APIs like Eucalytpus.

Rather than be left reeling on the ropes from losing a big commercial partner, OpenStack have revealed the names of companies that are backing their move from loosely-governed model to fully-fledged open source foundation, with IBM and cloud aspiring Red Hat both signing on the dotted line as Platinum Members.

Originally mooted in October 2011 after concerns over management, 19 companies have staked their claim to OpenStack and form the list of partners. AT&T, Canonical, HP, IBM, Nebula, Rackspace, Red Hat and SUSE will be Platinum members of the new foundation whilst Cisco, ClearPath, Cloudscaling, Dell, DreamHost, ITRI, Mirantis, Morphlabs, NetApp, Piston Cloud Computing and Yahoo are all joining as Gold Members. It’s important to note that the only difference between the tiers is the amount of money invested and not relative to creative direction. In fact, all recently contributed to the latest OpenStack release, Essex.

Having the likes of IBM and Red Hat gives a certain amount of prestige to OpenStack, with both offering $550,000 per year for the next three years, according to reports, as well as donating source code to the stack. In total, the OpenStack Foundation can expect to pick up at least a cool $4m in funding to push the OpenStack commercial offering forward, in terms of code and adoption.

Jonathan Bryce, chairman of the Project Policy Board for OpenStack told reporters that this wouldn’t change the way development works:

Money is just one part of it, we want companies to all pitch in so we can build something great together,” Byrce said. “Platinum members also have requirements around full-time employees that they have contributing to the open source project and a corporate strategy that lines up with OpenStack as well.

The purpose of the foundation is really focused on community building. The actual development, technical meritocracy and project technical leads that are elected by committers – all of those things are not changing.

Despite being a big contributor according to stats from the Essex release, Red Hat have been decidedly coy about how OpenStack fits in with their plans. A statement read:

Now that OpenStack is moving to a foundation, Red Hat felt that this new governance structure would provide a good framework for enhancing open source collaboration around OpenStack,”

Yes, Red Hat is planning to introduce an enterprise distribution of OpenStack. However, we are not announcing any specific product plans right now.

Half the battle was getting interested parties to commit formally, with rumours swirling for months now that Red Hat and IBM were both set to jump onboard the cloud infrastructure game of thrones, so to speak. To us, it seems that this IaaS war will be between the OpenStack foundation and Citrix’s Cloudstack, having taken it to the Apache Software Foundation recently, wanting to keep ties to Amazon Web Services when OpenStack’s vision was to provide cloud stacks within interested vendors.

Both want to claim their rightful place as enterprise cloud king, and it will be interesting to see how this plays out. With 166 already signed to OpenStack, this infrastructure was needed to truly make it a contest. The men at the top of OpenStack have done their research too – inspired by Apache and Eclipse’s models for example.

The group intends to meet next week in San Francisco at OpenStack’s Spring Conference to thresh out the structure for the foundation, with the final draft of bylaws expected to be in place by September. Until then, we wait to see how each partner takes OpenStack forward. Who will win this cloud war? We just don’t know yet…

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