If you follow cloud trends even lightly, chances are you've heard a good amount of hype about OpenStack. Recently, though, when I attended CA World in late April, I encountered a lot of OpenStack skepticism. One Citrix executive spun it like this: "OpenStack gets the PR; CloudStack gets the P.O.s."
Of course, since this was a Citrix exec, and since CA has joined the CloudStack community and ported its Nimsoft monitoring capabilities to CloudStack, I was skeptical about all of this CloudStack boosterism – until I started talking, on the record, to people using CloudStack.
The enthusiasm didn't dissipate.
Chris Swenson, the Director of Cloud Operations and Infrastructure for WebMD, first looked at OpenStack as a possible IaaS platform to build a private cloud that WebMD could use for testing and development.
"We did a proof of concept with OpenStack, but after spending a couple of weeks with it, we just felt like it wasn't enterprise ready," Swenson said. He pointed out that the POC was conducted a year ago, and that OpenStack is evolving constantly. However, he also said that using CloudStack is like turning to a contractor to build your house, whereas using OpenStack is like walking into Home Depot and figuring everything out on your own.
"We prioritized self-service provisioning, so if the interface isn't intuitive, it's going to be a problem for us," he said. With OpenStack, the interface was a problem.
Eric Schlesinger, VP of Technology for Proteus Technologies agrees with Swenson's assessment, and he tested out OpenStack much more recently, earlier this year. Proteus is a software and systems engineering solutions provider that serves the Intelligence community, the Department of Defense and Federal Executive departments.
Proteus employees work off-site constantly, where they don't have access to many of the resources they need to run quick tests or set up training. This past year, Schlesinger prioritized making life easier for his engineers, and setting up a private cloud was at the heart of that effort.
Proteus gave OpenStack a whirl, but the engineers weren't happy with it. Unless you're an OpenStack expert, he noted, it's not terribly intuitive and the documentation is not yet up to par.
"I hadn't even heard of CloudStack, to be honest with you," Schlesinger said. "But right away my team loved it." Proteus also tested out Eucalyptus, but they chose CloudStack for its "small footprint, solid documentation, and ease of use."
Another consideration for both WebMD and Proteus was compatibility with VMware. "We're a VMware shop, so the ability to integrate with vCenter was pretty high on our list of criteria," Swenson said.
Schlesinger, meanwhile, noted that while VMware integration was important, Proteus didn't want to get stuck being locked into that platform forever, which is why they went with CloudStack instead of a VMware cloud.
According to Citrix, more than 500 CloudStack-based clouds pop up every month. The vertical that took to CloudStack first was the service provider market, with BT, China Telecom, EVRY, IDCFrontier, KDDI, KT, NTT Communications, Orange MBS and Slovak Telecom all building on CloudStack.