OpenStack dominated by big vendors' interests? No way, says co-founder

Co-founder of the OpenStack project Chris Kemp says that allegations it's dominated by commercial interests are untrue.
Written by Nick Heath, Contributor

The co-founder of the OpenStack project--the open-source, cloud infrastructure management software--has said that accusations the project is dominated by commercial interests "couldn't be further from the truth."

OpenStack provides a collection of open-source software tools for managing and orchestrating compute, storage, and networking for private and public clouds. The code base for the software is open and built using suggestions from project contributors. The project is managed by the not-for-profit OpenStack Foundation.

In a recent report, Gartner research VP Lydia Leong suggested that OpenStack was not as free from commercial influence as it portrayed, citing the large number of major IT vendors like Rackspace, VMware, and Cisco that are contributors to the project.

"Some people have been led to believe that because OpenStack is open source, it is an open and widely adopted standard, with broad interoperability and freedom from commercial interests," she wrote in the report.

"In reality OpenStack is dominated by commercial interests, as it is a business strategy for the vendors involved, not the effort of a community of altruistic individual contributors," Leong added.

Speaking to ZDNet at Cloud Expo Europe in London on Tuesday, Chris Kemp, co-founder of OpenStack, said: "From my perspective that characterisation couldn't be further from the truth.

"The ecosystem of commercial players is so diverse. Wherever you look, you are finding a good balance between the interests of individuals and commercial interests," he said.

"It's been wired that way, if you look at the board of directors. Only one third of the voting influence is in the hands of big corporations. Two thirds of the influence is in smaller startups and individuals. Arguably the individual and smaller interests cancel out the large corporate interests."

"Only one-third of the voting influence [of the board] is in the hands of big corporations" — Chris Kemp, OpenStack

Vendors who contribute to the project are also free to implement OpenStack in differing and competing products and services, so to talk about the project being skewed to any one group of organisation's interests is nonsensical, Kemp said.

"It's a platform and it's meant to be built off. OpenStack isn't an operating system, it's a core. The same core is used between a Rackspace implementation and an HP implementation," Kemp said.

"That [shared] core is what allows interoperability and portability of applications and workloads, and the tools and management system to flourish. It is through the different implementations that OpenStack has competing services and competing products that its strength lies."

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