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Should Microsoft Step Up OpenStack Support?

While software and service providers continue to support OpenStack, the open source cloud infrastructure initiative, there are still a healthy number of key players who haven't committed to it (or have done so in a limited way).

The behemoths that come to mind are Amazon Web Services, Google, Microsoft, Oracle and Verizon (including its Terremark business unit). That's quite a few heavy hitters missing, even though some 200 players have joined the OpenStack Foundation including AT&T, Cisco, Citrix, Dell, EMC, HP, IBM, Intel, NetApp, Rackspace, Red Hat, Suse, Ubuntu and VMware.

Yet some of those, notably Citrix and VMware, have offered half-hearted support for OpenStack. Citrix was an original sponsor of the project until last year when it launched its own CloudStack open source project, offering up its cloud management platform from its 2011 acquisition, to the Apache Foundation, much to the consternation of Rackspace. Oracle hasn't endorsed OpenStack either, though last week's acquisition of Nimbula, at least gives it a foot in the door, but its intentions remain to be seen.

As for VMware, it became an overnight supporter following last summer's acquisition of software-defined networking (SDN) provider Nicira, a major OpenStack contributor. Still Rackspace execs say VMware needs to step up and make its ESX hypervisor fully OpenStack compatible.

The same holds true for Microsoft. Though not a member of the OpenStack Foundation, Microsoft has participated in various OpenStack meetings and has provided some support for Hyper-V (outlined in this OpenStack wiki). A Microsoft spokeswoman also pointed out that Microsoft is enabling System Center 2012 to monitor, orchestrate and backup open source cloud environments.

The only hypervisor that can run as a host in an OpenStack cloud is the open source KVM, said Jim Curry, a Rackspace senior VP. "There's no reason there shouldn't be five or 10 well-tested and implemented hypervisor choices for customers that's the promise of OpenStack," Curry said.

Only 25 percent of Hyper-V's features work in an OpenStack cloud, Curry added. "We can run Windows as a guest, but if customers require it on the host, it would require Microsoft to step up the Hyper-V compatibility," he said.

When it comes to Microsoft's own cloud efforts such as Windows Azure, the company likes to talk up its support for Java, PHP and Python, though it's still geared toward .NET applications. Microsoft is also readying infrastructure as a service capabilities for Windows Azure via support for virtual machines including Linux instances.

Given the limited Hyper-V support for OpenStack, it's probably a long way off, if ever, that Windows Azure would gain OpenStack compatibility -- at least from Microsoft unless there's some stealth effort in Redmond.

Would you like to see Microsoft step up its OpenStack support or is that best left to others? Drop me a line at


Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 03/20/2013 at 1:15 PM

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Reader Comments:

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 James USA

This is nothing more than the "Johnny Come Latlies" setting up the cloud market for a strike similar to what was done to Microsoft over Windows and IE. it's obvious that this "standard" was developed without the industry leaders that created the cloud market in the first place. Also, the notion that one wants or needs the portability for infrastructure, and that any " standard" could provide that abstraction is at best a pipe dream. Once infrastructure is in place in either on-prem or not, it rarely moves. When it does move its because the hosting company has an major event (merger, acquisition, etc.) or the consumer does. When that happens, no "standard" can save you to the point of making it worth while. People think that by slapping "Open" on the front of any body of work represents some noble attempt at sameness. But what it really attempts to do is sucker the world into some summed down version of product. The industry leaders are in the position they are in because they made the investments, took the hits, and competed fairly to get momentum. People that hold their companies back by buying into to junk like this are just naive.

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