Conventional wisdom suggests that most of the adoption of the open source OpenStack cloud management framework would be limited to cloud service providers. After all, when it comes to virtual machines, VMware already dominates on-premise environments, so it’s natural to assume that VMware would extend that base into the realm of the private clouds running inside an enterprise.
But a new study of 376 IT professionals conducted by Zenoss, a provider of IT monitoring software, finds that 43 percent have deployed at least one private cloud based on open source software. In the majority of those instances, the open source software being used to build that private cloud is based on OpenStack.
Consequences for VMware
That penetration of the private cloud market has not gone unnoticed by VMware. Last week VMware announced that organizations will be able to deploy a distribution of OpenStack from VMware directly on top of VMware vSphere 6. The basic idea is that rather than deploying OpenStack on top of the open source Kernel-based virtual machine, IT organizations can deploy OpenStack on top of vSphere in a way that allows them to run both existing VMware and new OpenStack applications on the same IT infrastructure.
While that may be a compelling offer from a total cost perspective, it may not address the fundamental reason why so many IT professionals are leaning toward OpenStack. While VMware vSphere is still significantly ahead of VMware in terms of both features and functions, the licensing fees for VMware software have given many IT organizations cause for some pause.
Potential benefits of hybrid cloud computing
From the perspective of cloud service providers, having OpenStack running in their clouds and in a private cloud running on-premise offers a lot of potential. It makes it feasible within a hybrid cloud computing scenario to deploy a common management framework. Given the fact that cloud service providers have already shown a reluctance to pay for proprietary software of any kind, an OpenStack distribution from VMware makes it potentially much easier to support the large installed base of VMware customers using managed services based on OpenStack.
Of course, when it comes to managed services, VMware has its own ambitions. OpenStack is still a fairly complex undertaking for most organizations. In fact, it’s probable that many organizations will have multiple private clouds running on both a native implementation of VMware vSphere and OpenStack. In those environments, managed services based on vSphere may be the better way to go for many IT services providers once all the costs of managing the environment are tallied.
What lies ahead
In the meantime, Microsoft has made no bones about its own ambitious plans for hybrid clouds, which at present don't include much reliance on OpenStack. While trailing VMware in terms of virtual machine deployments, Microsoft has been making up significant ground.
It’s too early to say for certain how cloud computing inside the enterprise is going to turn out. After all, most IT organizations are just beginning to make the move to the private cloud. As such it’s not even certain where most of those private clouds will run. It is clear that there will be more IT complexity, which for IT services providers has historically proven to be a very good thing indeed.