My initial reaction to the news that Google is joining the OpenStack Foundation as a corporate sponsor was to shrug it off as not extremely important to enterprises considering private or hybrid cloud options. After reading the details about Google’s participation in OpenStack, I’m ready to officially shrug it off from a large enterprise perspective; smaller organizations may find some interest in the news. Let me explain why I’m less than enthusiastic about Google’s participation in OpenStack.

What Google’s participation with OpenStack entails

Google has joined the OpenStack community as a Corporate Sponsor. There are three basic levels of corporate participation in OpenStack: Platinum, Gold, and Corporate.

  • Platinum is the highest level and is currently unavailable. These sponsors commit two full-time developers to the program, in addition to $500,000 in annual membership fees.
  • Gold is the second highest level. It has a $50,000 to $200,000 membership fee without any resource commitment.
  • Corporate is the third level. Based on company size, Corporate level sponsorship requires a $10,000 to $25,000 annual commitment.

Google isn’t providing a major monetary commitment to OpenStack through the membership fee; Google’s primary contribution is the advancement of the integration of containers with OpenStack. Google is looking to improve integration between Kubernetes and OpenStack. For organizations building large-scale applications based on containers managed by Kubernetes (which will be consumed by OpenStack APIs), it’s a big deal. The combination of the three requirements are a bit of a unicorn.

Why I’m not excited about this news

Every major enterprise IT vendor has jumped on the OpenStack bandwagon — even providers such as VMware that seem to compete with OpenStack have OpenStack integration. Walmart and PayPal have provided a roadmap to successfully deploying and managing OpenStack within a large enterprise. Successful OpenStack operators hire DevOps-focused infrastructure groups that can modify the code as needed to support their needs.

Google’s participation isn’t offering a major technical capability the open source program has lacked. The bottom line is it’s still difficult to operate and support OpenStack.

The existing challenges with OpenStack aren’t due to a lack of features or integrations; they’re due to the fact that infrastructure professionals that can code are still very rare. With the absence of ample talent, the desire is for OpenStack to look more like traditional enterprise infrastructure software. Enterprise customers desire packaged software that may require consulting help to deploy but can be managed by their existing operations team.

Smaller organizations undertaking a developer-driven DevOps transformation may have the agility to take advantage of the Google OpenStack integration. Smaller organizations have the advantage of a limited number of systems and processes to refactor for containers; however, most of the ecosystem is too complex to take advantage of a very specific feature set being offered by Google’s OpenStack efforts.

More interesting OpenStack developments

While I welcome the advancement of OpenStack technology, in general, I don’t see Google’s participation in OpenStack as something enterprise customers should get excited about.

The purchases of Blue Box by IBM and Piston Cloud by Cisco are more interesting developments for OpenStack. Both startups focus on making OpenStack more consumable for enterprise customers. Via their acquisitions of these companies, IBM and Cisco add scale and enterprise know-how to OpenStack deployments.

Similarly, Platform9 is focused on making operating an OpenStack-based cloud a realistic option for average customers.

What do you think?

Are you excited about this OpenStack news? Or, do you agree that Google is adding to OpenStack’s overall features but is not solving its biggest challenge? Share your thoughts in the discussion.