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Don't Look for Azure To Be Built on OpenStack

If you were wondering if Microsoft Azure service would ever become an OpenStack cloud, it looks unlikely anytime soon based on statements by company officials Thursday.

Perhaps you never thought that was in the cards anyway, but given Microsoft's more-welcome approach to open source, I've always wondered what the future held for OpenStack on Azure. I usually get blank stares when I raise the issue.

But Microsoft doesn't believe there are any OpenStack clouds that come near the size and scale of Azure, or the services offered by Amazon or Google, said Corporate VP Brad Anderson, answering a question during a company presented webinar -- the first of its new Hybrid Cloud Series -- held in Redmond (see Kurt Mackie's recap of the presentation here). The hour-long talk is now available on demand here.

"I hear the conversation -- is OpenStack delivering this promise of public, hosted and private and I would argue there's not a global public cloud that's built on OpenStack today," Anderson responded. "If you look at these public cloud organizations -- us, Google and Amazon -- none of us have built on OpenStack. And we're the only one of those three that has this promise and a proven track record of taking everything that we're doing in the public cloud and then delivering it across... a hybrid model."

While Rackspace may beg to differ, IBM and Hewlett Packard are among those that say their OpenStack-based clouds support OpenStack. But both are still a work in progress. At the same time, OpenStack, like Azure, is designed to run Windows Server instances and Hyper-V virtual machines. The promise of OpenStack, however, is that customers can move their workloads to other OpenStack clouds. Microsoft counters that customers can do that with in-house Windows Server private clouds, hosting providers that support Microsoft's cloud OS (few as those may be at this time) and Azure. It's safe to say that the OpenStack community wouldn't see that as a valid comparison.

The question came up just as the OpenStack Foundation this week released its semi-annual distribution called Icehouse which has 350 new features and targets better scalability for enterprise workloads. Members of the OpenStack community from various companies have consistently described Microsoft as an active participant in committees where it comes to ensuring Hyper-V works well in OpenStack clouds.

Despite questioning the reach of OpenStack, Anderson reiterated the company's commitment to integrating with it. "OpenStack is going to be used in a number of different places so we want to also integrate with OpenStack," he said. "If an organization has made a decision that they're going to use OpenStack, it's a lot like Linux. If I go back and look at Linux 10 years ago, we embraced Linux with System Center. We've got an awful lot of Linux. We look at the number of VMs that are running inside of Azure that are Linux-based, and that's a significant number. We'll do the work on OpenStack to make sure Hyper-V in the Microsoft cloud is a first-class citizen. We will continue that work."

While Anderson was playing both sides, in an ironic sort of way, so was Canonical Cloud Product Manager Mark Baker, whom I chatted with earlier in the week about its release of Ubuntu Linux 14.04. Canonical is a major OpenStack participant and Baker claims Ubuntu is a widely used Linux distribution on OpenStack clouds today. At the same time, Baker said besides Amazon, Microsoft Azure is one of the fastest-growing alternatives when it comes to deployments of Ubuntu.

"Even through people may find it surprising, we have a great working relationship with Microsoft and the Azure team," Baker said. "We see that as one of the fastest-growing clouds, and Ubuntu is growing fast on that."

Regardless, a number of major organizations are using OpenStack clouds including Samsung, Netflix, Time Warner, Best Buy and Comcast, according to Baker, acknowledging most are tech-centric enterprises today.

While Anderson didn't actually go into whether or not Azure will support OpenStack, his sizing of it didn't make it sound imminent. Do you agree with his assessment of OpenStack or is he underestimating it?

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 04/18/2014 at 12:33 PM


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