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Open source cloud project backers duking it out for support

In the less than two months since Citrix gave its CloudStack software an Apache license, cloud providers are beginning to support the open source model.

This week for example Zenoss, which makes software that allows enterprises to monitor and control data center functions, rolled out support for CloudStack in its product. Floyd Strimling, cloud technical evangelist for Zenoss, says the company has supported CloudStack based on customer feedback.

"We're seeing a surprising amount of adoption" by end users, he says. Most of the deployments he's seen for CloudStack have been around social and gaming companies, some of whom want to build an architecture similar to that of Zynga's, which modeled its cloud and data center architecture off of Amazon Web Service's public cloud.

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Citrix created a schism in the open source cloud market when it gave CloudStack an Apache License, in effect creating a competing model to OpenStack, another open source cloud project. CloudStack has attempted to distinguish itself from OpenStack by touting its compatibility with AWS, but OpenStack officials say they too have AWS compatibility.

Strimling, who says he supports both projects, believes CloudStack is more mature compared to the OpenStack open source cloud model with better usability out of the box. OpenStack, he says, needs more development and customization to be implemented. "OpenStack is still very much in the development community; I think it needs to cultivate a user community," Strimling says.

There have been some big-name users of OpenStack, however. Namely Rackspace, HP, Dell and Piston Cloud Computing have all committed to using the OpenStack to launch cloud offerings. At this week's Interop show, OpenStack backers were touting their adoption levels as well. Rackspace CTO John Engates says with the latest release of the software - dubbed Essex - OpenStack is "very much ready for prime time."

He notes that Rackspace has transitioned its internal data centers to almost entirely using the OpenStack framework, representing one of the largest scale deployments of OpenStack. IBM and Red Hat have recently signed on to support the project as well, he notes.

The reality is that both OpenStack and CloudStack are both still so young neither side has more momentum than the other, says Luke Kanies, CEO of Puppet Labs.

"The jury is still very much out, there is no way this race is over yet," he says. Puppet builds open source infrastructure management software and has worked with customers that have deployed both OpenStack and CloudStack, as well as other open source and proprietary cloud offerings, such as Eucalyptus, AWS and even on the platform side, CloudFoundry.

As for Strimling's point that CloudStack has more mature feature sets, Kanies says that's only to be expected. CloudStack is modeled off of Cloud.com, which Citrix purchased and then turned into an open source project and there were already production deployments of the system in the market. OpenStack was basically starting from scratch about two years ago. "Most people when they think of cloud, on the public side they think Amazon and on the private side they think VMware," he says. "We're still very early in the open source progression."

Network World staff writer Brandon Butler covers cloud computing and social collaboration. He can be reached at [email protected] and found on Twitter at @BButlerNWW.


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