Perhaps one of the most significant parts of the vSphere 6 announcement was not one of the many new features and capabilities of vSphere 6, but rather VMware’s announcement around the packaging of OpenStack with vSphere 6.
VMware Integrated OpenStack
We have for quite some time wondered whether OpenStack would ever become a serious threat either to VMware (the clear leader in the private and hybrid clouds) or to Amazon, Microsoft, and Google (the leaders in the public cloud). In Does OpenStack Have a Future in the Private/Hybrid Cloud?, we questioned OpenStack’s technical and economic viability as a private or hybrid cloud platform. In Is OpenStack Dead?, we questioned its viability as a public cloud platform. In particular, we questioned whether anything built from combinations of IBM, HP, and Rackspace could amount to viable competition to VMware, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google.
However, in the cases of both the private/hybrid cloud and the public cloud, we conceded that if a serious software company like Red Hat were to throw its weight behind its own OpenStack distribution, then OpenStack might stand a chance.
It appears that VMware has taken the threat from OpenStack seriously enough to engage in a strategy designed to co-opt whatever momentum it had and to make sure that Red Hat struggles to make any money from its investment in OpenStack.
VMware has announced VMware Integrated OpenStack, which comprises the following:
- None of the underlying services in pure OpenStack are replaced. ESXi and all of vSphere are still there. For a VMware customer, this is reassuring. For an OpenStack purist, this is heresy.
- The OpenStack APIs and some of the management services are layered on top of the VMware stack.
- The VMware management solutions have been enhanced with the ability to manage services deployed through the OpenStack APIs.
Implications of VMware Integrated OpenStack
VMware obviously did this for a reason. The rationale likely had to do with wanting to co-opt the budding momentum of OpenStack as a private cloud solution and to suck some oxygen out of Red Hat’s tent. In detail:
- It is pretty clear that OpenStack is dead as a public cloud platform. Amazon, Microsoft, and Google are not going to use it, and Rackspace appears to be backing away from it. None of the public cloud pretenders, like HP, stand any chance of gaining much in the way of market share in the public cloud, given Amazon, Microsoft, and Google’s focus on this space.
- That means that if OpenStack has a chance, it is as an on-premises private cloud offering. This is certainly what vendors like Piston Cloud Computing and Red Hat are betting on.
- VMware needs to defend its private cloud house if it wants to attack Amazon, Microsoft, and Google on the public cloud front.
- Making VMware Integrated OpenStack free to all vSphere Enterprise Plus customers is a great way to make sure that OpenStack gains little to no momentum in the VMware customer base.
- Supporting the OpenStack APIs and providing for management interoperability, along with the bundle in the point above, is a great way for VMware to make sure that a vendor like Red Hat does not build a subscription revenue base around OpenStack in VMware’s backyard.
Is Red Hat Really the Target Here?
We are starting to conclude that VMware may have it in for Red Hat. In Will VMware Use Docker to Kill Enterprise Linux?, we hypothesized that VMware might offer a minimal distribution of Linux (just enough OS) to sit between the top of the VM and the bottom of the Docker container and offer support to customers who run that Linux. Now, we have VMware offering support for its variant of OpenStack, a move clearly designed to stop the encroachment of Red Hat OpenStack into the VMware customer base. Is the OpenStack move just part one? Is part two, then, to be a direct shot at the entire Red Hat support revenue stream for RHEL running on the VMware platform?
Our conclusion is that the management team at Red Hat had better start sleeping with one eye open.
VMware Integrated OpenStack is a direct shot at Red Hat and anyone else who intends to build a revenue stream around supporting OpenStack-based private clouds in the enterprise customer base.