VMware answers to Rackspace on OpenStack

Earlier this week Rackspace announced a massive open source project called OpenStack
In its early form, it is the open source version of The Rackspace Cloud, including the storage-as-a-service Cloud Files component and the Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) Cloud Servers component.

The market answer has been extremely positive, with a remarkable number of key cloud computing players supporting the initiative. 
As Cloud Servers is built on top of XenServer, Citrix has been blazing fast in suggesting that OpenStack instantly killed the upcoming VMware vCloud Service Direct (vCSD) even before its launch.

VMware responded earlier today. Sort of.

The company has been extremely vague in addressing its lack of presence among the OpenStack supporters.
Nobody in the industry really expected VMware to openly recognize the value and the potential of the Rackspace initiative. But customers may have hoped at least for an explicit clarification about the VMware’s commitment to interoperate with OpenStack in the future. Mostly because VMware has been frequently accused of locking in its customers.

The VMware’s answer arrived from Winston Bumpus, the Director of Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF) that the company hired in June 2008 as its new Director of Standards Architecture.

Bumpus certainly praises the open source but uses the opportunity to promote the VMware’s efforts in this market rather than OpenStack:

We’re huge supporters of open source software efforts, having placed major bets on Spring and RabbitMQ, among others. And while open source makes sense for some product offerings, open standards provide interoperability between open sourced, shared sourced, and private sourced implementations.

He also subtly suggests that Rackspace is abusing of the open source, open standards tagline adopted to promote OpenStack:

Additionally, we don’t confuse open standards with open source. Open source is a collaborative development process for creating an implementation of a product or service while open standards are developed by a collaborative process to ensure interoperability among various competing product offerings.

But the key of his message is at the beginning of the post:

We love providing customers choice of hardware, operating systems, management platforms and cloud computing platforms. We expect to see all sorts of cloud computing implementations that will provide customers a range of price points, features, benefits and specs based on their requirements.

But what’s most important to us as it relates to these various implementations – those that currently exist and those that are still to come – is that the interfaces work together so that true choice is possible.

The VMware’s answer can be read in several different ways. Dissembling it and rearranging its pieces in a new order, a different reading seem to emerge: Rackspace is seeking to build a de-facto standard cloud computing platform leveraging some existing standard technologies, but VMware is already working with (and deeply influencing) those standards and will release something, built on those standards, that is way better than OpenStack.

Contrary to what Citrix suggested in its critique to vCSD, the VMware’s cloud computing offering will not be limited to a cloud computing management solution. A complex cloud platform that is being built right now and the VMware’s acquisitions of SpringSource, Redis (not a proper acquisition actually), Rabbit Technologies, GemStone Systems and Engine Yard seem to confirm the plan.

The only problem is when VMware will release this IaaS+PaaS cloud platform and how much traction OpenStack will gain by that time.