In this article, Giles Sirett, CEO of ShapeBlue gives an insight into how widely adopted Apache Cloudstack actually is and why the world just doesn’t seem to know
Before I start writing, I just need to say the main bombshell of this article is the list at the end. It’s a list of organisations that I know (or know somebody who knows) who are running (and depending on ) Apache CloudStack. Feel free to skip to that list, but I advise you read this background first in order to see why that list is so incredible.
Anybody who knows me will also know that my main frustration in life is the lack of market awareness and the perception problems of Apache CloudStack. In fact, I used my slot at the recent CloudStack Collaboration conference to talk about exactly this (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kflRiFocdUs)
If you don’t know, CloudStack is an open-source IaaS/cloud orchestration platform. If that doesn’t make sense to you, consider as many others frustratingly do: as “the other OpenStack”
In the Opensource world, we hate to talk about competitors or markets – we’re all nice guys and we only care about technology. Right ?
Wrong. Over the last few years Open-source has become key to many vendors (and others) strategies. There are battles being fought out in the open source world that rival any of the technology battles that we’ve seen over the last decade. More than ever, major companies are backing certain projects in an attempt to commercialise around them.
CloudStack sits in the opensource IaaS market. Its great software, in production use at 100’s of organisations , proven & stable, is seeing good adoption ,has a vibrant, growing opensource community, two dedicated conferences per year, a couple of commercial ditros and an ecosystem of vendors and integrators (of which my company is one). By any standards, this is a success story for open source. In fact, the reason that we work with it so much at ShapeBlue isn’t based on some sort of strategic decision, it’s based on the factors above and the fact that our customers want platforms that work.
It’s all about marketing
But the fact it’s in the IaaS space is where the problems start. CloudStack just happens to be in the same space as OpenStack. I’m not going to criticise the work that goes on with OpenStack, but what I will criticise is the strategy that the players in OpenStack have used to try and educate the world that OpenStack is the only choice. It started with Rackspace trying to tell us that they were the “open cloud company” (yeh, right) and has steadily spread across many major vendors who have all thrown their life savings on it. OpenStack is a bandwagon like I’ve never seen before. I can just imagine the conversations in many Board rooms “I don’t care if it’s not ready or doesn’t work, just align with it”. But hats off to those guys, if you throw enough marketing money at something, it will develop.
CloudStack on the other hand is governed by The Apache Software foundation. ASF is an organisation that has a huge track record in overseeing the governance of many of the world’s greatest open source products/projects. Just look at the evidence: Cassandra, Hadoop, openoffice and, of course, the webserver. The governance model has been proven to work: by putting community over code and making it extremely hard for individual companies to influence development and we end up with truly great software. But the world has changed since ASF set out on their journey of giving away software for the greater good. Open source projects now compete. They compete for users, they compete for developers, they compete for mindshare. In order to get all of these things, projects need awareness. And, in today’s world, awareness is bought with marketing dollars. Apache does not do marketing. I would like to say “does not do marketing well” but there’s really no need for the “well”. Historically, the ASF has relied on 3rd party commercial entities to informally evangelise & promote their software. Just look at Hadoop and Cloudian if you want an example. However, that just doesn’t work with CloudStack. We are a community driven by users, not by vendors seeking a greater goal. Add to that, we’re in a space so skewed by marketing and we have a problem.
I am a PMC member of Apache Cloudstack (and for the record, I want to make it VERY clear that these views are purely my own and, in no way whatsoever do I represent the project or the community) and I know that there is currently a lot of work going on to try and address these perception issues. But that will take time. Even if CloudStack starts to gain more market awareness, I fear that this will still be an asymmetric situation with such a heavily marketed competitor in the space.
With the lack of marketing, comes a key point: we don’t have a machine that can produce case studies and encourage our users to brag about this great software they’re using. We don’t track downloads, we’re not even really sure exactly how widely adopted our software is. I therefore fully understand people having the perception that OpenStack is the safe route.
For heavens sake: we have got some of the of the worlds largest tech firms using CloudStack and NOBODY in this market seems to know it, because we don’t market ourselves very well.
But let’s imagine a world without marketing. Let’s imagine a world where somebody does a true assessment of how widely adopted a piece of tech is before choosing one over another.
Call to action
So, to my main point (and that list). I have one simple request to make of anybody reading this article. If you are (or will be) considering building a public or private IaaS environment, forget all the marketing for the moment, look at the list of companies below and ask yourself “why the hell are all these people using CloudStack? What has it got that they’ve all seen?” . Once you’ve stood up again, get hold of CloudStack and do a true side-by-side technical evaluation. I’ll then buy you a beer at next year’s CloudStack Collab conference.
STOP PRESS: Since I published this list, the Apache CloudStack project has also published a list of known users of CloudStack
http://shapeblue.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/logo-340x156.png00Gileshttp://shapeblue.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/logo-340x156.pngGiles2014-06-18 17:13:312017-06-13 14:54:06Are these people really all using CloudStack?