​You can run the same programs on 16 different OpenStack clouds

Cloud interoperability is no longer just a goal when you use OpenStack. And that makes migration a whole lot easier.

Cloud companies like to talk about about how you can avoid vendor lock-in. And OpenStack just showed how to make it happen.

Sixteen different vendors did a live demo at OpenStack Summit showing that you could run the same software stack on 16 separate OpenStack platforms.

Here's the amazing part. All 16 vendors had the program running on their platforms in under 10 minutes. Try moving your application from say Amazon Web Services (AWS) to Microsoft Azure that easily.

OpenStack Interop Challenge

Yes, you really can run -- and thus migrate -- your application from one vendor's cloud to another if they're all running OpenStack.

Don Rippert, IBM's general manager of cloud strategy, explained, "Yes all 16 companies will compete, but interoperability is a rising tide. It makes things better for all of us." Jonathan Bryce, the OpenStack Foundation's executive director, added "SUSE, Canonical, Red Hat, you all hate each other right? But, the program works on all your systems."

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The project was to set up and run a complete enterprise software stack. The target was a 3-tiered LAMP Stack enterprise application. This was made up of a WordPress application running off MySQL with a load balancer. To deploy the project, all the companies used the Ansible DevOps tool and OpenStack Shade. To make sure everyone was on the same application programming interface (API) page, each also used RefStack. And, of course, all of them were running on OpenStack clouds.

That was the end of the similarities. Each company then used their own architectures and programs. For example, Canonical used Ubuntu 16.04 while IBM used Ubuntu 14.04. Red Hat, of course, used Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). Others used CentOS.

The hardware architectures were just as varied. While most used a variety of Intel hardware, Linaro ran its stack on ARM-64.

The brave OpenStack vendors included: AT&T, Canonical, Cisco, DreamHost, Deutsche Telekom, Fujitsu, HPE, Huawei, IBM, Intel, Linaro, Mirantis, OSIC, OVH, Rackspace, Red Hat, SUSE, and VMware.

What this demo really showed was that if you use open-source programs and DevOps, you can easily migrate programs from one cloud to another. True, OpenStack made it easier, but if you stick with Linux and open-source software, cloud migration doesn't have to be a horror-show.

That said, it's also a demo that matters. As Forrester Research pointed out recently, "The best [cloud] solution depends on an adopter's development force, a need for differentiation and customization and any desire for interoperability." That last one, interoperability, is critical.

The last thing businesses want is to repeat the problems of vendor lock-in with a new generation of cloud-lock-in troubles. When NASA and Rackspace created OpenStack in 2010, Rackspace' president at the time Lew Moorman said OpenStack was aiming to prevent vendor lock-in. Six years later, OpenStack has fulfilled this promise and wise businesses should take notice of this.

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