OpenNebula quietly keeps building its open-source cloud

With the OpenStack project turning two years old soon amid what will no doubt be a ton of vendor-generated hoopla, Ignacio Llorente wants the world to know that the more mature OpenNebula project continues to evolve, just a lot more quietly.
The latest update, OpenNebula 3.6, released Tuesday, features virtual machine rescheduling, disk cloning and integration with OpenNebula’s new OpenNebula’s Marketplace. That makes it easier for users to find and deploy cloud appliances with a mouse click, Llorente, director of OpenNebula, told me in a recent interview.
The battle for cloud supremacy is on with various OpenStack adherents claiming that their iteration of the open-source cloud stack, launched by NASA and Rackspace(s rax) two years, ago is key. Then, in April, Citrix(s ctrx), a former OpenStack proponent, threw a monkey wrench into the mix, when it said it would pitch CloudStack as an alternative to OpenStack. That happened just a month after Eucalyptus, which had been seen as a cloud also-ran, jarred the world by aligning itself with Amazon’s public infrastructure as a service (IaaS). Others in the OpenStack claque — including Hewlett-Packard (s hpq) and (somewhat confusingly) Nebula — are all jockeying to position their OpenStack implementations, taking pot shots at Amazon(s amzn) or VMware(s vmw) or Eucalyptus or each other as their needs dictate. Meanwhile, OpenNebula, over in Europe, kept its nose clean and its mouth shut.

Avoiding the cloud API kerfuffle

And unlike some of the OpenStackers (ahem Rackspace) OpenNebula has zero interest in engaging in the cloud API wars. “We’re fully API agnostic and do not try to reinvent the wheel. … We implement existing de facto standards like Amazon’s and de jure standards from standards groups like OGF and DMTF,” Llorente said, referring to the Open Grid Foundation and the Distributed Management Task Force.
OpenNebula is bigger at home in Europe than elsewhere with customers including the European Space Agency and the big CERN laboratory of Hadron Super Collider fame.  But it also claims companies like Akamai (s akam) and IBM among its users.
“Most of our commercial users use OpenNebula because they see it as an open alternative to VMware vCloud director — they want to keep using the VMware hypervisor but don’t want VMware lock-in,” Llorente said. Indeed, the fear of vendor lock-in spreading from in-house data centers to the cloud is motivating lots of companies to look into adopting open-source clouds be they OpenStack, CloudStack (s ctrx), Eucalyptus or OpenNebula.

Some clouds more ‘open-sourcey’ than others

Still, OpenNebula does not appear to have huge traction in the U.S., and that’s a problem. Shawn Edmondson, VP of product strategy for Rpath, a vendor that automates OS and middlwaere deployment, is often asked if its services work with various clouds. He said enterprise customers ask first and foremost for OpenStack integration, with some inquiries for CloudStack and Eucalyptus.
“OpenNebula clearly has users in Europe and is a credible project, but we don’t see it much here,” he noted. “It’ll be interesting to see what happens because the world doesn’t really need four open source clouds — there will be a shakeout,” he said.
Tier1 Research analyst Carl Brooks said OpenNebula lacks the marketing muscle of either a CloudStack or OpenStack, but has its upsides. “It’s primarily an automation engine for clustering that turned into an IaaS platform … and it’s arguably more ‘open sourcey’ than OpenStack, Eucalyptus, CloudStack or Nebula since its update and development is driven from the traditional bastions of open source — universities, scientists, government-sponsored projects. The other [clouds] that are commercially sponsored could pop like bubbles overnight if the big vendor interest goes away.”
And should that happen, OpenNebula could get the traction it needs.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user myyorgda