The OpenStack Foundation and Microsoft have released major updates to their cloud platforms and frankly there’s nothing really new or exciting here – which is a good thing.
Sure, there were over 250 new features added in the Grizzly release of OpenStack that brought several nice enhancements to its software-defined networking, storage services, computing scalability and reliability and it delivered better support for multiple hypervisors and better image sharing, too. The vSphere driver was given a significant update, Swift got better monitoring, and there's a new bare metal provisioning option, which was the talk of day one of the OpenStack Summit here in Portland, Oregon.
For Microsoft, it lifted the preview tag from its full Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) enhancement to the Windows Azure public cloud platform. It’s a big deal for Microsoft who previously didn’t provide this level of virtual infrastructure control but compared to the rest of the public IaaS market, it’s more of a “welcome to the party” announcement than a new innovation or differentiator. To sweeten its appeal, Microsoft added a pledge to match AWS pricing for compute, network and storage services and thus dropped its prices in these areas by 21-33%.
If all the above is so ho hum, then why am I so bullish on these announcements? Because ho-hum releases like these are signs of maturity that signal to enterprises that it’s now okay to invest. Let’s face it. Most enterprises are conservative. We don’t like to be first with any new, risky technology. That’s why we wait for the 2.1 release before trying something new. It’s why we wait until the established vendors embrace and deliver open source software to us so we don’t have to support it ourselves or take a risk on a company that might not be there for us in a year. We’d like other companies to work all the kinks out of the system, live through all the stability issues and fix all the bugs so we can get a solid release to work with.
And enterprises got both of these things in these announcements.
OpenStack is now in its seventh release but realistically, this is its second complete release. Of the 250 enhancements, the majority are maturity and stability improvements aimed at addressing enterprise needs. And this is the second release that many of the known enterprise technology providers are bringing to market in their solutions that truly address enterprise requirements. Cisco, RedHat, Rackspace, IBM, Intel, HP, and many other traditional enterprise suppliers concentrated much of their efforts over the past six months to hardening OpenStack and ensuring it would deliver against enterprise expectations and requirements. In fact, RedHat became the top contributor to Grizzly; Rackspace is clearly taking a back seat and that's good for the entire ecosystem.
The fact that Microsoft’s IaaS release is a snoozer sends the same signal. Microsoft could have tried to release a fully differentiated IaaS solution but that only would have caused enterprises to pause. By being as much of an expected release as possible, Microsoft is smoothing the way for enterprise adoption. And Microsoft has also done a good job of balancing the sense of comfort and familiarity with this release between those who have experience with other IaaS platforms and those who want the familiarity of their existing Microsoft corporate environments. Microsoft Windows Azure IaaS will feel familiar to developers who have experience with Amazon Web Services’ Elastic Compute Cloud. It will also look familiar to enterprise SystemCenter administrators who will see an environment that looks very much like a Hyper-V compute pool. This is probably the best validation of the hybrid cloud model from a major tech supplier so far this year. Microsoft is steadily delivering on its promise to make the extended, hybrid cloud the way forward for enterprise customers; especially systems admins, who want the option of extending datacenter workloads to the cloud without giving up the tools and IT processes they have spent years refining.
Well done. Now what are you waiting for?
Dave Bartoletti contributed to this report.