Cloudscaling's Randy Bias: The time for OpenStack to embrace Amazon is now

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Practically since OpenStack was started there has been discussion about whether it should fully support Amazon Web Services’ APIs. Doing so would make it easy to port applications between an OpenStack cloud and AWS. It would also let businesses easily build hybrid apps that run internally on an OpenStack cloud and on AWS.

The time has come

Image credit: flickr/Peter Curbishley

Cloudscaling’s Randy Bias has been vocal about his support of fidelity with AWS. But in a blog post this morning he contends that given the continued strong growth of AWS, the need is now urgent.

He basically argues that there’s no hope for OpenStack in the public cloud market so it would do well to support interoperability with AWS and Google Compute Engine if it wants to hold on to the private cloud market. It’s true that interoperability with AWS would be good for OpenStack in the private cloud market. But it’s easier said than done.

In making his point, Bias slams Rackspace for resisting the embrace of AWS. I’ve asked Rackspace to weigh in but haven’t heard back. I’ll update if they respond with anything meaningful. (Update: Rackspace declined to comment.)

Bias makes a few points that I’d argue with or at least challenge.

One is that he says that there’s no legal issue with copying AWS APIs. Until a few legal experts weigh in on that question, I’m not convinced. Some businesses have banned the use of Amazon APIs for fear of legal repercussions.

Even if there weren’t a legal issue, having Amazon’s blessing would be important, and it’s not clear that Amazon would be supportive of the idea. Without its support, the OpenStack community would always be a step behind, a bit like Eucalyptus was before Amazon embraced the company’s use of its APIs. This is a major uncertainty.

Bias also has written off the success of public clouds based on OpenStack. “The likelihood of such public clouds seems low to miniscule at this point,” he wrote.

It’s true that the public OpenStack clouds face daunting competition. But I wouldn’t count them all out just yet. Enterprises are still reluctant to embrace AWS, preferring to stick with suppliers they’ve worked with for years. That gives the HP’s of the world at least a fighting chance.

I also think that Bias confuses growth with position in the market. After suggesting that Google Compute Engine’s growth is on par with AWS’ because someone told him the wait list for the service was longer than the customer list of most public clouds, Bias lumps GCE with AWS as “quite possibly… the leading public cloud services.”

There’s no doubt GCE is a major contender, but given its relatively recent entry to the market, I suspect it’s far smaller than AWS. I wouldn’t yet call it a leading public cloud service.

Still, at the end of the day, embracing AWS could indeed be helpful to the position of OpenStack. But even if the OpenStack community decides it’s the right idea, there’s still the big question of how Amazon would respond.

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

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