Cloud Wars: Cisco Invades OpenStack

Simply put, Cisco is an amazing company.  Love them, hate them, fear them, or fight them, but always respect them.  While other large companies such as IBM and GE have “reinvented” themselves, few have done so prior to having a profound downturn in either market share and/or stock prices.

With an innocent blog post by Lew Tucker, Cisco VP and CTO of Cloud Computing, Cisco has invaded OpenStack under the guise of Networking.  Remember, OpenStack was founded by NASA and Rackspace and currently has over 45 members with the mission of providing open source software to build public and private clouds.  However, none of OpenStack’s members have the shear size or market power of Cisco.

In his post (http://blogs.cisco.com/news/cisco-joins-openstack-community/) Lew writes:

In our view, dynamic provisioning of the network and network-based services is an essential element of cloud computing…

…To achieve this, we believe that it is best to join with others from across the industry to work on open technologies and that open source is the ideal way to reach developers and learn from the community…

My Take, Cisco is spending billions of dollars to insure their continuing dominance in networking and Cloud computing.  By joining OpenStack, Cisco gains visibility into OpenStack’s interworking as well as the ability to influence the direction and speed of the project itself.  As an added benefit, Cisco will learn from the community while having the ability to reach a set of talented developers that otherwise may never have engaged with Cisco.

Clearly, Cisco understands how to build complex partnerships across competitive lines.  While VMware has vCloud, do they not work with other server vendors?  Would EMC not sell a SAN to an HP customer?  As a server vendor, Cisco is learning that choosing neutrality over products has its benefits especially when it comes to software.

While OpenStack is “hot” and an interesting project, they have their competitors as well with more coming. It remains to be seen if,  “a collection of open source technologies delivering a massively scalable cloud computing operating system” is supportable and useable by mainstream Administrators and Enterprises.  Perhaps this is what VMware is betting on with their vCloud solution.

One final note, where are the Operating System Vendors in this fight? Yes, Ubuntu is currently packaging applications like OpenStack and Eucalyptus but we need an integrated Cloud Operating System, not simply a collection of applications.  Microsoft, Red Hat, Apple, anyone….

Cloud Wars: Dell Fights Back With UEC

While Verizon is acquiring Terremark and Time Warner Cable, yes TW Cable, is acquiring NaviSite, Amazon continues to disrupt the industry with their 12 plus Cloud offerings.  The more EC2 grows, generated $220 million in 2009 with predicted revenue of $500 Million in 2010 and $750 Million in 2011, the more it validates that customers are willing to transform their purchasing behavior from hardware devices to compute nodes.

Meanwhile, Enterprises are struggling with virtualization and virtualization stall with the impending reality that they must operate within a Cloud model.  Here lies VMware, the dominant x86 virtualization provider, as they have a complete set of products and 3rd party certified partners to help their customers go virtual.  Let’s face it; ESX/ESXi and vCenter are excellent products.  Additionally, VMware has introduced vCloud and vCloud Express “VMware Power. By the hour.” Essentially, this technology allows Enterprises to build a private cloud and Service Providers to build public clouds and to provide hybrid cloud offerings.

Of course, this pits Amazon’s Cloud Offerings, which are not built with VMware’s technology, against VMware and some of their most powerful partners.  Amazon utilizes the Xen hypervisor along with other customized/internal solutions.  Understanding that VMware is the dominant Enterprise x86 virtualization technology, Amazon has introduced VM Import.  VM Import allows Enterprises to easily migrate VMware Guests (VMDK) into the Amazon EC2 Cloud.

However, what if I want to create a private EC2 within my Enterprise?  Along comes Dell’s Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud (UEC) infrastructure solution. Dell UEC combines the power of Dell’s server hardware with the software of Ubuntu Linux and Eucalyptus providing Enterprises with the same virtual machine images and management APIs that Amazon uses for EC2.  Well it is not exactly EC2, as some will argue that Eucalyptus is not a full implementation of the EC2 API, and it is a matter of fact that Amazon has plenty of additional customized internal tools/systems that make EC2 a reality.  Not to mention that EC2 relies on the Xen hypervisor while UEC utilizes KVM virtualization.  All in all, it’s a great start.

As always, Dell has published an excellent UEC Reference Architecture White Paper for UEC Standard Edition.  This begs the question whether or not Dell will offer Enterprise and/or Service Provider Editions of UEC.  In any case, Dell now has a visionary offering that they will be able to evangelize to their current customers and prospects.  In fact, as UEC matures, Dell is sure to add elements of their entire product portfolio; namely Compellent storage equipment, more powerful server platforms, and perhaps networking/storage hardware via their partnerships with Juniper, Brocade, and others.

One last thought, Dell has incredible flexibility in creating unique cloud offerings via simply changing software and hardware partners.  For example, offering a solution based on Red Hat with Delta Cloud or perhaps a secondary UEC offering that utilizes OpenStack.  This flexibility also translates to Dell’s Open Management philosophy, which is sure to attract additional software partners thereby creating a UEC partner ecosystem.