Bringing OpenStack To Enterprises
Gartner analyst Alessandro Perilli recently wrote an article, Why Vendors Can’t Sell OpenStack to Enterprises. In that article, he lists four challenges for vendors selling OpenStack and why enterprise adoption of OpenStack hasn’t taken off yet.
I agree with Alessandro’s assessments of the challenge for vendors to bring OpenStack to the enterprise. Enterprises haven’t adopted OpenStack widely today. But, that’s not because they aren’t interested. Indeed, a recent survey that IDG Connect conducted of 200 enterprise IT decision makers on Red Hat’s behalf found that 84% planned to adopt OpenStack.
Rather, the fundamental issue is due to the 4th tenet of OpenStack: Open source projects are not the same as products.
Here is how Red Hat is addressing the challenges that Alessandro highlights for bringing OpenStack to enterprises:
Challenge 1: What OpenStack Does And Doesn’t Do
Alessandro’s first challenge is: Lack of clarity about what OpenStack does and does not.
Over the last three years, press mistakenly positioned OpenStack as an alternative to commercial solutions that in Gartner we call cloud management platforms (CMPs). In most situations, it’s not the case. Quite the opposite, from an architectural and functional standpoint, what OpenStack does must be augmented by a commercial CMP for many enterprises that need strong process governance, sophisticated capacity management, and advanced automation capabilities.
We agree with this. This is why Red Hat not only provides our OpenStack product, Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform, we also provide a cloud management platform to manage and operate OpenStack and other cloud infrastructures: Red Hat CloudForms.
OpenStack brings fundamental infrastructure services around compute, storage, and networking to the cloud. CloudForms provides rich self-service as well as enterprise cloud management and operations. The two combined–cloud infrastructure platform and cloud management platform–yield a powerful combination for an IaaS cloud.
Challenge 2: Transparency About the Business Model around OpenStack
Alessandro’s second challenge is: Lack of transparency about the business model around OpenStack.
During the press and analyst day at the OpenStack Summit I was fortunate to attend a panel with prominent vendors about their involvement in the project. One of the first questions, if not the first, submitted by the moderator was something like “You offer commercial solutions to build private clouds, and yet you are investing significant resources in this open source project. Why?”
What followed was the closest thing to a discourse at a philanthropy dinner I have ever heard in my life. Not a single panelist described the business model behind their decision to support OpenStack.
Red Hat’s business model is 100% open source. We have no alternative commercial solutions, and we never will. We are even in the process of opening and giving away the source code for CloudForms, though we recently spent $100m+ to purchase the company and technology behind it.
Instead, just as we do for Linux, JBoss, and other offerings, we develop in the upstream OpenStack project. We have a fast-moving community distribution for early-adopters, RDO. And we have a 100% open-source product for enterprises that we sell on a subscription basis: Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform.
We offer support, certifications, access to our knowledge base and ecosystem, updates, and an enterprise lifecycle through our 100% open source Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform subscriptions. No bait-and-switches, and no open core with the valuable bits as proprietary add-on software.
Challenge 3: Vision and Long Term Differentiation
The third challenge that Alessandro points out is: Lack of vision and long term differentiation.
What value they add to the vanilla OpenStack code that enterprises could (but don’t want to) download by themselves? What is the differentiation between all these distributions?
For way too many, it’s all about number of code contributors and simplifying the installation process, in this exact order.
I strongly agree with this, and this is not how Red Hat is differentiating our offerings around OpenStack. Now, to be sure: Red Hat is pleased that we have been the #1 contributor to OpenStack in the most recent releases (Havana and Grizzly). However, we are more pleased with the breadth and depth of what we are doing around OpenStack: we are contributing to and leading across every single project at OpenStack.
Working upstream in this way is important because it enables Red Hat to engage closely with the open source community and to control our product roadmap in two ways that are important to us, our customers, and our partners:
- We are making OpenStack enterprise-grade, with core functionality
- We are leading new initiatives and developing new capabilities at OpenStack across the board, from application templating with Heat to new management tools with Tuskar to IaaS-PaaS integration with Solum
But, this is not how we differentiate our OpenStack offering from others in the market. Instead, we do this in two ways:
The World’s Largest OpenStack Ecosystem
One of the reasons that enterprises depend upon Red Hat is to access the hardware, software, and partner ecosystems that we have built around our products. And, this is no different with OpenStack. Since launching our partner and certification programs around OpenStack earlier this June, we now have:
- 140+ companies certifying their OpenStack solutions to Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform
- 900+ certified solutions for Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform, available in the Red Hat marketplace
- 100’s of partner-led POCs of Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform at enterprise customers
- 1000’s of certified hardware systems for Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform
- 1000’s of certified applications for Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform. Notably, this includes full guest support for Microsoft Windows with WHQL support and Red Hat Enterprise Linux. We are currently the only OpenStack distribution that can claim this
Leading hardware and software vendors around the world are all certifying their OpenStack solutions to Red Hat’s product because we are leading the way towards providing an enterprise-class OpenStack.
The Industry’s Leading OpenStack-Powered Cloud Portfolio
OpenStack is hugely important and a force in the industry. But, it is not sufficient by itself for providing enterprise clouds. Alessandro already pointed out that you need a cloud management platform too, and we have that with Red Hat CloudForms. Additionally, though, Red Hat also provides:
- Red Hat Enterprise Linux, both for guests, and to power OpenStack infrastructure
- Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, which provides our KVM hypervisor and can also run traditional applications not yet ready for OpenStack
- Red Hat Storage, which provides an open software-defined storage solution for clouds and plugs into OpenStack
- Red Hat CloudForms for an enterprise cloud management platform
- Red Hat Satellite for devops and systems management in the cloud
- JBoss Middleware for building and integrating applications in the cloud
- OpenShift for PaaS
Challenge 4: Pragmatism
Alessandro’s final challenge for vendors taking OpenStack to enterprises is: Lack of pragmatism.
Purists keep telling enterprise prospects that OpenStack can’t be a general purpose cloud environment, able to host traditional multi-tier LoB applications as well as new cloud-aware applications. “Either your application can scale out or you are stuck in a VMware world”, I was told at the Summit.
Yes, given the state of today’s state-of-the-art, OpenStack is not yet ready to “host traditional multi-tier LoB applications as well as new cloud-aware applications.” However, we recognize that enterprises need to bring their existing applications to the cloud, and we are enabling enterprises to do that both today and tomorrow through our Red Hat Cloud Infrastructure (RHCI) product, which brings together CloudForms, Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform, and Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization.
With Red Hat Cloud Infrastructure, enterprises can run and manage workloads across a hybrid environment. So, for example, it could run a database on traditional virtualization capacity with Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization. And, it could run a scale-out web tier on Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform. And, it could provision, manage, and operate across all that with a single pane of glass with CloudForms. In this way, even though OpenStack is not yet ready to host traditional applications like a database server, that does not mean an enterprise can’t use databases while adopting OpenStack.
Longer-term, Red Hat is also driving new functionality and integration between Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization and Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform. We are advancing OpenStack so that it will become more robust and eventually able to address a broader diversity of applications. We are sharing services between Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization and OpenStack so that workloads will be able to migrate between the two. For example, we are sharing the same storage services for image management and the same networking technology between the two infrastructure platforms. This will take time, but we will get there. And, along the way, CloudForms provides an abstraction and unification layer across these diverse types of infrastructure.
Red Hat and the Enterprise
Red Hat is firmly working with many enterprises in their early adoption of OpenStack. Yes, the technology still new and immature for most companies. But, we are making significant progress in industries from retail to financial services–all traditional enterprises. And, they are coming to Red Hat because we are the leaders in taking open source projects like OpenStack to products ready for and valuable to the enterprise.