Several experts and non-experts such as me have criticized lack of focus and leadership in OpenStack efforts. It often felt like they were playing the wrong game, chasing wrong enemies and were running around in circles. To add to this, several folks have highlighted problems with the technology itself. Technical problems can and will be fixed, but headed down wrong road because you had a bad strategy will sting quite a bit.
Is OpenStack done? Not really, I do see a path forward for (large) companies to succeed and make money with OpenStack. I will outline my thinking here.
First few observations:
- The game for the future is Elastic Cloud – provide (perceptively) infinite compute, storage resources as a start for your customers and do not let them experience limits of infrastructure that traditional approaches surface.
- Private Cloud is a flawed thinking that will run its course soon.
- This requires willingness to offer low cost offerings and compete on price for commodity infrastructure resources.
- Realize that it’s actually not a zero sum game. You don’t only win if rest of the market loses – it’s still an early enough market that you should learn to co-exist.
- Accept what AWS has done is disruption to your traditional model – they are not competing on technology, they are competing on disrupting traditional enterprise software business model
- Responding to disruptive innovation is taking a harder look at your Resources Processes and Values (refer to Clay Christensen’s RPV theory).
- The market is ready to move beyond integrated offerings and may be getting hungry for open architectures when it comes to IAAS.
If you were to accept my observations, here is what I would recommend as a course of action ( using OpenStack as technology underpinning ).
- Create a separate BU with a GM to focus exclusively on public cloud that will be competitive with AWS and in the process will cannibalize your own private cloud offerings. Give this BU very limited budget. Why should you have a separate BU? Refer to RPV theory again. Take it from me – I have failed in my career to do it within existing structure and most recently a half-ass BU structure.
One note on cannibalizing: Don’t worry about upsetting existing holy cows in your organization – they will be disrupted – only question is whether it’s your own BU or competitors – if your BU does it, these holy cows have a chance of retaining their jobs and retire with dignity.
This BU shall:
- Go with a pricing structure that is on-par with AWS and GCE. Sell this offering independently; create a separate, small and dedicated sales team. They should be commissioned on selling this offering only, nothing else. (A major chunk should come from on line sales though).
- Make interoperability possible from your public cloud to AWS, GCE and Azure. Highlight that your offering is open, while rest are closed. See #7 above.
- Create the best interoperability possible with OpenStack deployments in a data center environment, but encourage those customers to get on a plan to move to the public cloud.
- Refuse to accept constraints such as artificial certifications, release processes that old timers at your mother ship may want to impose on you.
I do not believe you are at a disadvantage because you are starting late – this may be right time to offer a modular open option for customers growing weary of integrated IAAS offerings.