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OpenStack is NOT an Enterprise Cloud Platform

Thomas Wreh, Sr. Solutions Architect, OnX Enterprise Solutions

“What?” you ask. “OpenStack is NOT an Enterprise Cloud Platform? That flies right in the face of what you’ve been telling us for years!”

So, before you think I’m losing my mind, let me clarify. OpenStack is not a product like PowerPoint or Adobe Acrobat that you take off the shelf, install, and you’re on your way. And it’s not a cloud platform in the traditional sense, built as proprietary software for the masses and dependent upon a few developers to drive new features. OpenStack is an open framework on which you build a custom cloud platform that works best for your business and IT organization. For enterprise companies, deploying open source cloud software allows for customization based on business needs, giving your organization a clear advantage over your competitors.

So what exactly does “an open framework” mean?

Imagine if the auto industry had an “Open Automotive Foundation” that gave you access to all of the tools and secrets for building a car. And what if that foundation released an “Open Car Framework,” with the design templates, hardware specs and free software to build your own new car platform? Wouldn’t you choose to build a custom car with all the features you and your family need, instead of compromising and trying to make your needs fit into one of the new car models brought by the big manufacturers? With an open framework, we would be able to combine all the features and innovations we’ve been asking for from the big auto manufacturers for years. Personally, I don’t want to have to buy a minivan in order to have seven cup holders (I get thirsty, okay? Don’t judge me!) With access to all of the features that had previously been proprietary to specific manufacturers, wouldn’t everyone line up to start building his or her own innovative vehicle? Not so fast, my friend!

Not many of us would trust our own ability to make a safe, road-ready automobile out of a design framework, no matter how feature-rich or forward thinking the design might be. Sure, there are some folks out in the world who have the skills, passion, time and energy to build an innovative car from a design framework. But the vast majority of us would seek the expertise of those with extensive experience with the Open Car Framework to help us build the best possible vehicle for our families. The same is true for OpenStack software and its developer ecosystem. For any organization looking for a custom cloud platform to meet specific business goals, it’s important to find a partner with experience implementing an enterprise-ready cloud platform derived from the raw, community OpenStack framework. For enterprise organizations, this type of OpenStack partnership has significant advantages:

  • Innovation: OpenStack’s rich feature set comes after years of lackluster offerings and capabilities from proprietary cloud solutions. Also, many proprietary cloud solutions have had a dependency on a single vendor’s hardware, resulting in the intended consequence of vendor lock-in (see below). Innovation has been limited to whatever the few developers working on the project could think of and execute. Innovations in open source solutions, like OpenStack, are the result of thousands of developers working at breakneck speed to bring innovation from concept to solution.
  • Price: When enterprise customers consider an open source solution, they usually make the mistake of comparing the enterprise-ready version of the software to the free open source community version. This is not an apples-to-apples comparison. A true comparison is enterprise- ready open source software vs. proprietary software. While enterprise-ready open source software may not be free, it is usually priced at a fraction of proprietary software with the same features and maturity that enterprise companies rely on. Also, don’t forget the added rate of innovation mentioned above.
  • No Lock-In: Traditional cloud platforms attempt to be a single all-in-one solution promising every feature you’ll ever need. The problem is that these platforms never really live up to the hype. Many times there have been important features that just don’t quite work properly. A cloud platform based on OpenStack is more of an integration engine where you can combine the best features from a number of different vendors.
  • Customization: Unlike proprietary solutions, with enterprise-level OpenStack, you have access to the code and can make the changes based on your specific requirements. In many cases, you’ll have your enterprise technology partner working side-by-side with you or making these customizations on your behalf. This type of arrangement is much better than settling for the limitations of proprietary software or wasting months tinkering with community open source code on your own.

Not all Enterprise OpenStack Platforms are created equal. This is where OnX brings our expertise to help enterprise companies design, build and implement OpenStack solutions. We assess your environment and help you determine which Enterprise OpenStack Platform meets your business goals and requirements. And as you look at introducing new technology, keep in mind that OnX is an experienced partner. We will guide your organization through the transformation process, from the front-end consulting to help you make critical decisions early on to our extensive training on OpenStack and supporting DevOps technologies.

Well, there you have it: OpenStack is not an Enterprise Cloud Software. With OnX, it’s the Enterprise Cloud Software customized for your business.