Gartner cloud analyst Lydia Leong, who has been tracking the OpenStack project, says ever since VMware's purchase of Nicira, it was inevitable that VMware would in some way or another be involved in OpenStack. The company wants its Nicira technology -- for which it paid a hefty price -- to be fully used within the OpenStack ecosystem. There could be some ancillary benefits as well, including VMware getting more insight into strategies of other member companies, such as Cisco, HP, Dell and Red Hat. "Having a foothold in the enemy camp doesn't hurt," Leong says. Furthermore, as an open source project, it may have looked bad for the OpenStack board to reject a member's application to join as one of its first major moves.
Others disagree with Renski. Krishnan Subramanian, an analyst at Rishidot Research, says VMware and other tech heavyweights, such as Microsoft (which is not yet an OpenStack member), joining the project legitimize OpenStack. Plus, he says, VMware has an incentive to "play nice" with OpenStack given its Nicira ties, as well as the market opportunity of integrating its Cloud Foundry platform as a service further into OpenStack. The big question remains whether VMware will work to extend support for its ESX hypervisor in OpenStack. Doing so could undermine VMware's vSphere and vCloud Director products because OpenStack could theoretically provide many of the same capabilities. Leong believes VMware will advance some support for its hypervisor, but will keep much of the true value of the product in its own offerings.