Against Open Stacks

I have misgivings about Open Stack. Open Stack is an open source "Cloud" or infrastructure/virtualization platform, that allows providers to create on-demand computing instances, as if "in the cloud," but running on their own systems. This kind of thing is generally refereed to as "private clouds," but as all things in the "cloud space," this is relatively nebulous concept.

To disclose, I am employed by a company that does work in this space, that isn't the company that is responsible for open space. I hope this provides a special perspective, but I am aware that my judgment is very likely clouded. As it were.

Let us start from the beginning, and talk generally about what's on the table here. Recently the technology that allows us to virtualize multiple instance on a single piece of hardware has gotten a lot more robust, easy to use, and performant. At the same time, for the most part the (open source) "industrial-grade" virtualization technology isn't particularly easy to use or configure. It can be done, of course, but it's non trivial. These configurations and the automation to glue it all together--and the quality therein--is how the cloud is able to differentiate itself.

On some level "the Cloud" as a phenomena is about the complete conversion of hardware into a commodity. Not only is hardware cheap, but it's so cheap that we can do most hardware in software, The open sourcing of this "OpenStack" pushes this barrier one step further and says, that the software is a commodity as well.

It was bound to happen at some point, it's just a curious move and probably one that's indicative of something else in the works.

The OpenStack phenomena is intensely interesting for a couple of reasons. First, it has a lot of aspects of some contemporary commercial uses of open source: the project has one contributor and initial development grows out of the work of one company that developed the software for internal use and then said "hrm, I guess we can open source it." Second, if I'm to understand correctly, OpenStack isn't software that isn't already open source software (aside from a bunch of glue and scripts), which is abnormal.

I'm not sure where this leads us, and I've been milling over what this all means for a while, and have largely ended up here: it's an interesting move, if incredibly weird and hard to really understand what's going on.

comments powered by Disqus