Consolidation of OpenStack vendors has long seemed inevitable due to the project's complexity and difficulty of implementation compared to turnkey private and hybrid cloud solutions. From 2011 to 2013, venture capital poured into OpenStack startups to the tune of nearly $2 billion. Piston, Nicira and Cloudscaling were just a few of the companies that benefited from strong VC interest. But with the recently announced shutdown of Nebula, the market seems to have come down sharply from those highs.
OpenStack center of gravity shifting to legacy vendors
To be clear, OpenStack is not dying. Instead, it is becoming central to the strategy of incumbents like VMware, which made waves with its introduction of VMware Integrated OpenStack last year and the inclusion of this OpenStack distribution into its vCloud for NFV platform for telcos. By getting in on the OpenStack game, industry heavyweights are either acquiring or forcing out smaller competitors.
"The big fish have entered the pond making it harder for the remaining smaller 'OpenStack generalists' to compete," Tesora CEO Ken Rugg told TechCrunch. "Red Hat, HP, IBM, Oracle EMC and VMware are all investing huge dollars into their distributions so it's hard to see how a company like Nebula can compete."
"OpenStack is not dying."
OpenStack will remain important to private and hybrid cloud deployments. Moreover, there is significant opportunity ahead for its usage in both the enterprise and service provider markets. Going forward, turnkey solutions as well as cloud management platforms like QualiSystems CloudShell, will be essential for making OpenStack worthwhile, by bridging the gap between legacy and cloud infrastructure and ensuring consistent automation.
OpenStack past, present and future
The traditional issues surrounding OpenStack are well known. Difficulty of migration, general complexity and confusion around its Amazon Web Services interoperability have slowed its adoption across the board ever since its 2010 launch.
Currently, OpenStack is receiving fresh attention from big vendors eager to simplify OpenStack uptake. In VMware's case, an OpenStack distribution is being used as something of an on-ramp to NFV in the cloud for telcos. Rather than a highly specific feature for OpenStack - like Nebula's bespoke hardware controller - VMware is offering an entire familiar environment in which to shift network functions to the cloud.
Turnkey solutions like this one and the others from HP et al appear to be the future of commercial OpenStack. A recent piece in Wikibon Premium by Steve Chambers outlined two broad opportunities for OpenStack products on the horizon:
Ultimately, it seems that vanilla OpenStack may have always been overrated as both a market trend and a solution for building cloud infrastructure stacks. Integrated solutions that remove the difficulties of setup and facilitate smoother transitions from legacy to cloud will likely be much more successful, even if that translates into a greater possibility of vendor lock in.
OpenStack's complexity was naturally going to be an issue for already complicated environments beholden to legacy infrastructure such as dedicated servers. A DIY approach to OpenStack was and remains an overly risky strategy for evolving infrastructure. Risk must be mitigated through a cloud management platform like CloudShell, so that applications can be safely migrated to private and hybrid cloud environments.
The takeaway: OpenStack solution consolidation is under way as established vendors enter the market. This trend reflects how OpenStack is becoming most valuable as part of turnkey offerings rather than as vanilla OpenStack. Look for more acquisitions and OpenStack plays from legacy vendors, as well as increased use of cloud platforms by customers to handle their evolving environments.