Is the Clock Ticking for OpenStack?

A new Forrester report says “the clock is ticking” for OpenStack, because “have been relatively few enterprise-ready OpenStack-powered products on the market.” The report was quoted as such in a leading tech publication, which had also reported, just five weeks ago, that SUSE had just “thrown its hat into the already crowded OpenStack distribution game.”

Well, which is it? Do prospective OpenStack customers have a surfeit of selections or a plethora of possibilities?

These questions are set against the larger background of the battles among open-source stacks, VMware, Oracle, and Microsoft.

Numerous court intrigues are also present in the picture. Is VCE partner and cloud pioneer Cisco a friend, foe, or “froe” of fellow VCE adventurer VMware? Is VMware’s Ncira-driven entry into OpenStack really a benign, practical move? How many people believe Oracle is truly offering cloud computing, and what does it matter?

How important, and disruptive, are multiple mobile platforms to Cloud Computing? What does the Big Data/Cloud Computing Boolean chart look like, and how much of Big Data is Hadoop? How serious is the oncoming unstructured Big Data onslaught, and how much of a threat is that to Oracle?

Regarding OpenStack’s prospects in particular and Cloud Computing in general, I think it’s also important to consider the role of first-mover advantage. This is one of those business-school concepts that works very well in analyzing arm wrestling, but less well in business. I can’t think of a single technology company today (including IBM) that had first-mover advantage. Somebody please tweet me with evidence to the contrary. I don’t mind looking foolish now and then.

But I doubt any perceived leader in today in either the battle of the stacks or in Cloud Computing is guaranteed leadership five years from now or 20 years from now. I reported from last year’s Cloud Expo West about RightScale’s finding that its varied, multi-cloud customers were supporting a virtual dead heat among Eucalyptus, CloudStack, and OpenStack.

The three are quite different species of duck, but they all seem to walk and quack in the same way to the untrained eye and ear. But if I learn at this year’s Cloud Expo West that one has assumed a clear leadership – ie, in terms of revenue, customers, and momentum – can we assume that will remain the case for long?

Even if a few OpenStack members get disenchanted and disengaged from the project, will that be a death knell or just another story for bit-stained wretches to chew on for a few days?

The driving cacophony emanating from Cloud Computing technology vendors is giving us one of the great golden ages of IT history. In the end, it will make enterprise IT and personal technology more productive, and thereby play a major role in improving the world’s economies. But as I wrote yesterday, cloud computing comprises a small portion of IT today, and will still do so several years from now.

It’s way too early to talk of ticking clocks, unless these are old-fashioned analog clocks with a big hand indicating years and a little hand indicating decades.

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