OpenStack to start cracking down on incompatible clouds

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Source: Ed.ward, via Flickr

Update: I've posted a follow up story that adds more detail.

Get ready for the OpenStack Foundation to start cracking down on service providers that call their clouds OpenStack but aren't actually interoperable.

The first companies that may be in the foundation's crosshairs: HP and Rackspace.

That’s according to Josh McKenty, CTO of Piston and an OpenStack Foundation board member. “Neither of their public clouds could be called OpenStack under current interoperability guidelines,” he said. “They’re basically not interoperable.”

At the last OpenStack board meeting, the board “re-fired up” the interoperability working group, he said. The foundation wants to make sure that providers stay on track to avoid fragmentation problems.

But it won’t bring down the hammer over night. “Don’t expect teeth in that policy until Havana,” which is the next version of OpenStack, McKenty said.

He expects the foundation to be “generous” for a while with letting companies call their services OpenStack even if they aren’t interoperable so as not to hold back momentum. In the future, the foundation will likely warn providers that certain implementations aren’t interoperable and give them some time, maybe six months, to correct it.

I asked Rackspace and HP for comment.

HP seems to deny that it runs foul of OpenStack interoperability. It offered me this statement:

“HP Cloud Services adheres to OpenStack’s interoperability guidelines. We are committed to OpenStack and are compatible with OpenStack APIs. In addition, we have a policy of not introducing proprietary API extensions. HP is supporting core OpenStack APIs and we have not added our own proprietary API extensions, therefore this ensures our interoperability with other OpenStack deployments.”

An HP exec I spoke to recently similarly argued that HP's cloud is on track. I asked Margaret Dawson, vice president of product marketing and cloud evangelist for HP Cloud Services, about comments Dell made a while back suggesting that HP has veered far from OpenStack.

“We have stayed on trunk and we continue to,” she said. “We aren’t changing core parts of the kernel.”

“To be fair, you have to add some level of your own innovation to create products that” are differentiated from other OpenStack clouds, she said. It’s most important to stay true to the code base and the APIs to ensure integration with other parts of the stack, and Dawson maintains that HP has done both of those.

After I reached out to Rackspace, the company wrote a blog post saying it hopes to be in line with OpenStack by the end of 2013. “While we believe some variation in implementations will be inevitable, we do want to eliminate as many of these as possible to provide as much of a common OpenStack experience as we can,” wrote Troy Toman, director of cloud compute engineering for Rackspace.

He said that the company decided to include “implementation details that are out of step with common practice in the OpenStack community” due to its need to lock down features before launch or to stay in line with its previous cloud offering.

I'll be talking to HP again on Wednesday morning and may update this story with additional comments from HP.

Update: I've updated this story to add the statement from HP.

Read more of Nancy Gohring's "To the Cloud" blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @ngohring. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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