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OpenStack ROI and the Myths of Open Source

By Sean Michael Kerner (Send Email)
Posted November 6, 2014

PARIS - In a panel at the OpenStack Summit here, executives from HP, Piston Cloud Computing and SwiftStack answered questions about the ROI (Return on Investment) from OpenStack.

Marten Mickos, head of HP's cloud efforts, noted that at this point, there is no shortage of customers that can benefit from the cloud. Piston CEO Jim Morrisroe said that for his organization, customers that already have cloud-native applications are the ones Marten Mickos of HP that will benefit the most. Piston doesn't currently provide any cloud porting application services.

"If their application set isn't cloud ready, we run away," Morrisroe said.

From an open-source perspective, Mickos said that the first piece of advice he has for those looking at the cloud is to consider an open-source solution, as it typically will have less vendor lock-in.

He added that open source, and particularly OpenStack, provides a user with more opportunities to choose among different vendors and approaches.

"When they come into the OpenStack world, they can choose any one of us," Mickos said. "I'm happy to recommend Piston and any other vendor in this space."

When asked how he tries to convince those that don't buy into the open-source model of providing better value and less lock-in, Mickos had a very succinct retort.

"Those who resist open source shouldn't use it; let them overpay," Mickos said.

In Mickos' view, open-source evangelizes itself as an overall ecosystem of vendors and technologies.

SwiftStack CEO Joe Arnold agreed with Mickos and in particular for OpenStack, he said that as a movement it allows operators to learn about the technology and get trained.

"It's a very elevating thing and it's a portable skill set," Arnold said.

Drawbacks to OpenStack Remain

There are also some drawbacks to OpenStack today. Mickos noted that it can be complex for both those that build and use OpenStack. He said that ROI will improve when it become easier to build and use.

ROI will also improve as cloud density goes up and specifically when containers are deployed, which enable operators to pack more virtual capacity into the same physical space.

"Containers are like mopeds and hypervisors are like cars," Mickos said.

The implication is that containers are faster and lightweight for the busy streets of modern data centers.

When it comes to myths about OpenStack there is a common one.

"The biggest myth is that OpenStack is not ready for enterprise deployments," Morrisroe said.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at ServerWatch and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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