Cloud Management Stacks: A Chicken-and-Egg Problem

Michael Vizard

While there is a lot of excitement these days over open source frameworks for managing the cloud, there are doubts concerning how long it will be until these frameworks are mature enough to use. There are those who would suggest that what vendors agree to cooperate on may not have much value in the grand scheme of things.

A recent survey of 600 IT professionals conducted by Zenoss, a provider of software for managing IT operations in the data center, found that it will be several years before most IT organizations are ready to make a commitment to open source frameworks such as OpenStack and CloudStack. Much of that reticence can be attributed to the relative immaturity of a set of technologies that are still being proven. But also at work there is the simple dominance of VMware. Many IT organizations have already chosen to standardize on VMware. Until there is more diversity in terms of virtual machines frameworks, proprietary cloud management frameworks will continue to dominate the cloud.

Of course, VMware along with everybody else has agreed to support OpenStack. While that’s probably a good thing in terms of future interoperability between cloud management frameworks, it would also be fair to say there’s nothing in OpenStack that vendors view as a threat to dominance. More simply put, the cloud management issues that OpenStack addresses are fairly low level. Each vendor will still build their own cloud management applications that are OpenStack-compatible. OpenStack is great for vendors because it reduces their development costs. But its value to IT organizations is that it in theory should result in more cross-platform cloud management tools sooner. Right now, the Zenoss survey would suggest that gaining access to those tools is not an immediate priority.

Of course, in some ways it becomes a chicken-and-egg conversation. IT organizations won’t adopt virtualization platforms they can’t easily manage from a single management application. But there is no need for those applications until there are two or more virtualization platforms to worry about.

According to Floyd Strimling, vice president of community for Zenoss, the biggest issue with OpenStack and related cloud management applications right now is maturity. The only thing that is unclear at this point is whether that applies to the software itself or the IT organizations that are supposed to need it.



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