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VMware's role in OpenStack: A second look

I had believed that VMware took part in the OpenStack community because it was dragged there by its customers. Boy, I was wrong. VMware's Dan Wendlandt helps set me straight.

After reading my article examining Mirantis' release of Icehouse-based OpenStack 5.0, Dan Wendlandt, Director of Product Marketing for OpenStack at VMware, reached out to review his company's contributions to the OpenStack project and bring me up to date. He was convinced that I didn't have a complete picture of what the company has been doing and what it is doing now.

I must admit that I viewed VMware's efforts with the OpenStack project as self serving; that is, the company did what was necessary to integrate its software with the OpenStack project, rather than contributing to the overall growth and success of the project. It's clear that I was wrong.

VMware's history with OpenStack

Nicira, an early player in what is now called software defined networking (SD), was involved with the OpenStack project since before the project was introduced to the public — and before it gained such a broad following. In July 2012, in VMware's words, "The acquisition of Nicira adds to our portfolio of networking assets and positions VMware to be the industry leader in software-defined networking." The acquisition also allows VMware to rightfully claim that it, through Nicira, is one of the early movers in the OpenStack movement. Although I was aware of this acquisition, I completely missed the connection with OpenStack.

What is VMware's OpenStack focus?

Since that time, VMware has invested in a number of areas that have allowed it to contribute to both its own cloud computing project, VMware vSphere, and to OpenStack. The following is a short summary of where VMware has focused on virtualization in the X86b environment.

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In the Kusnetzky Group model, VMware largely focuses on processing virtualization, but also has added access, application, network and storage virtualization to its portfolio.

The company has also added cloud management capabilities to its management tools. These, however, are largely for managing cloud computing environments based upon its own products. They've also added capabilities in the areas of network storage and virtual SANs (VSANs). These are flexible abstracts which can be seen as the basis for a software defined data center as well as software defined networks and storage and cloud management and support.

The company claims that its focus is on reducing the cost of both development and support of private, public and hybrid cloud computing environments.

These additions have been through a combination of acquisition and internal development.

Snapshot analysis

I was impressed by the depth of VMware's investment in cloud computing in general and OpenStack in particular. While a strong case can be made to say that much of the investment was self-serving, that is designed to integrated VMware's product and design ideas into the open source project. A substantial investment was also focused on simply making OpenStack a better environment for development, production and management.

I do believe that if a customer didn't specifically request OpenStack, however, VMware would lead with its own vSphere. That, however, is typical of major suppliers who have invested in cloud computing based upon many of the important cloud computing frameworks.

I appreciate the fact that Wendlandt reached out to me and helped me gain a larger view of what VMware has been doing.