It’s been a little surprising to me that there’s a decent amount of buzz in the market surrounding Openstack, but not many people are clear about what it actually is and VMware’s involvement in it. In some discussions, it is occasionally wielded as the “Deathbringer” for all things VMware and a work-in-progress alternative to everything VMware does. More often than not, there is a reaction of surprise in those discussions when it comes to light that VMware is a member of the Openstack Foundation. Furthermore, it contributes enough resources, funds and activity to be a Gold Member of the Foundation.
So how does that work?
Well, first and foremost when compared to a product suite such as VMware’s vCloud Suite, it should be understood that Openstack is not a fully featured product stack that will cater for all of the functionality required to operate a private, hybrid or public cloud. Openstack is a plug-and-play framework that defines a common list of APIs and interfaces to enable the provision and operation of cloud capabilities. The key word here is framework. This framework provides a definition and set of rules for how the components in a cloud should communicate and service each other. Openstack doesn’t for example provide compute virtualisation, or network and storage virtualisation for that matter. Yes, you still need a hypervisor in an Openstack implementation. There is definitely some confusion over this point and Openstack (open source cloud management) is often mentally bundled together with KVM (one open source hypervisor). This is of course incorrect, KVM is not Openstack and vice versa. The hypervisor could be any number of those on the market today, remember it’s plug-and-play. This is one example of where VMware has significant relevance to Openstack. You can use vSphere as the hypervisor in any Openstack system.
Alongside the compute virtualisation provided by vSphere, it’s also possible to use VMware technologies such as VSAN (Virtual SAN) to serve up storage along with NSX for network functionality. In fact, after VMware’s acquisition of Nicira, it became extremely important in terms of the development of Openstack networking projects. So it is clear to see there are definitely many areas of collaboration for VMware and Openstack. It would be dismissive to fail to acknowledge that there are elements of competitive overlap between some VMware products and some Openstack, but these aren’t an all encompassing “Us vs Them” discussion. VMware’s approach to Openstack is very much one of being a good neighbour in a growing ecosystem. If every element of the stack is to be plug-and-play, VMware will make best efforts to ensure that it’s own components adhere to the API specifications and provide the richest set of functionality available to the market.
VMware’s Openstack membership is established and gaining momentum. VMware is a Gold Member of the Openstack Foundation and continues to increase activity and contributions in all relevant projects. Although a relatively late arrival to the foundation, VMware now sits in the Top 10 contributing companies for the whole project (rankings based on Source code commits).
If you would like to know more about getting started with VMware and Openstack please read the following whitepaper: