Posted on February 5, 2013 10:30 am

Rackspace Flips, Won't Support Third-Party OpenStack Distros

from the too-much-effort dept.

Last year, Rackspace planned to support third-party OpenStack distributions as part of its private cloud offering. That was then. ‘Things have evolved quickly as enterprises start evaluating their options in the cloud generally and the OpenStack market specifically,’ said Jim Curry, general manager of Rackspace Private Cloud. Customers, it seems, want to run a cloud model internally that ‘looks and feels like what Rackspace delivers in the public cloud. To deliver that experience, we needed to develop software that deploys an OpenStack cloud that Rackspace can operate and support.’

Even if distinct divisions, it’s going to be related. If you take it at face value, they are claiming the common brand of “Rackspace” is expected to mean something and this change is specifically to make their offering more what one would intuitively expect. I suspect that this is probably more about avoiding a scenario where Rackspace advances the state of Openstack too fast. The faster Openstack matures, the less value their proprietary add ons provide. I’ve seen this repeatedly in the corporate open source world, some amount of fear, desperation, or genuine enthusiasm has them make big waves around open source. Then one or more of several scenarios play out. It could be the company doesn’t get as much out of the community as they thought they would (e.g a relatively niche area or one generally devoid of development skill). It could be the company realizes they don’t have any advantage without a unique software offering. It could be that they experience enough success they feel they don’t ‘need’ the community anymore and divest from the project to try to keep others from reproducing their success. In this case, perhaps they aren’t seeing the industry-wider openstack effort not changing EC2’s dominance in any significant way. Perhaps they think they are carrying the important part of the project and if they aren’t getting quality stuff in exchange, they are better off going it alone. From a technical perspective, Openstack base distribution really isn’t all that much as yet. It’s more about having a critical mass of people having some significant consensus. Thus far it is more a political phenomenon than a technical achievement as of yet . In fact, even in their aspirations the project isn’t really too large a technical endeavor. When companies realize that, they are actually very tempted to skip the chatter to reach consensus and write something on their own in less time than it would take to debate all the details in the open. We are talking about a relatively small potential market compared to most proven open source projects (the natural consequence of a project explicitly tasked with enabling consolidation into fewer systems and people). Openstack stands a very real risk of fading back into obscurity with the bulk of the leadership moving back behind closed, proprietary doors.