OpenStack’s Death Knell

OpenStack’s Death Knell

The furor over CloudScaling’s acting CEO Randy Bias’s call for OpenStack to do an about-face and support Amazon’s APIs has only intensified since I called for a hypermedia-based Cloud meta-API. Now uberpundit Robert Scoble with OpenStack-driver Rackspace has weighed in.

Scoble positions this battle as being over innovation. OpenStack has limited resources, he argues, so either it focuses on AWS API compatibility or on innovation, but its unable to do both at once. And in spite of the vast hordes of developers and buckets of money vendors are pouring into OpenStack, he may be right.

But if Scoble is right, if OpenStack is at a crossroads, having to choose between API compatibility and innovation, then the writing is on the wall.

OpenStack’s days are numbered.

The reason for this gloomy prognostication: not only does OpenStack have insufficient resources to innovate and work on API compatibility at the same time, but they are frittering away too many of those resources arguing over whether to innovate or not. Such arguments are a sign that OpenStack is run by committee, a too-many-chefs predicament showing the community has no clear direction.

The irony with this lack of direction is that such ambiguity is actually indicative of a culture of innovation. When you get a large group of people together with the common goal of exploring brand new territory, you’ll end up with arguments, wrong turns, experiments, and fail-early, fail-often situations.

Fair enough. Such innovation will be good for all of us in the end. But in the meantime, Amazon maintains its laser focus on the market and on its internal innovation strategy. No lack of direction here. Amazon is ahead of the OpenStack pack and pulling away.

We’re bound to see some wonderful innovations out of OpenStack in the months to come. And perhaps such improvements will be good enough for Amazon to emulate. But while Amazon is sewing up the market, OpenStack will eventually fragment and collapse under its own weight.

Yes, OpenStack is well on its way to innovating itself to death.

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