OpenStack Wins A Battle, But Can It Win Cloud Wars?

First, the good news for OpenStack advocates: Roughly 86 percent of prospective open source cloud users are considering OpenStack, followed by CloudStack (43.9%), and OpenNebula and Eucalyptus (19.7%), according to Zenoss. But what do the numbers really mean -- especially since the real competition involves big public clouds like Amazon and Microsoft?

While the percentage figures are impressive for OpenStack, they don't tell the full story. Missing from the stats:

  • Actual revenues tied to OpenStack;
  • Number of estimated OpenStack deployments worldwide; and
  • Which OpenStack distributions are taking off?

That last point is particularly important. Today's OpenStack market is somewhat like the highly fragmented Linux market of the 1990s -- when Red Hat, Caldera, Mandriva, SUSE and many other Linux distributions battled for supremacy. Some distributions imploded while Red Hat Enterprise Linux achieved critical mass within Fortune 500 companies.

The same could happen in the OpenStack market -- where an M&A feeding frenzy around distributions and consulting services has started. EMC has acquired Cloudscaling; Red Hat has acquired eNovance; Cisco purchased Metacloud; HP is building Helion; Mirantis raised $100 million; and upstarts like Blue Box are emerging in the private cloud market.

What Really Matters

OpenStack widening its lead over CloudStack and other open source cloud offerings isn't news. Most pundits could have predicted that headline long before Zenoss released its research.

Far more important: OpenStack's market leaders -- the cloud companies and deployment specialists -- have to disclose customer wins and real financial momentum. And then that momentum must be compared and contrasted to big public clouds like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and more.

Bottom Line: The open source cloud battles are over. OpenStack won. The OpenStack camp would be far wiser to focus on the real war -- vs. Amazon and more.

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