Hewlett Packard may offer an OpenStack distribution of its own

It’s not news that Hewlett Packard(s hpq) has its own version of OpenStack, called Cloud OS. HP uses it to run an internal cloud sandbox that customers can use to test out applications and it also runs on HP’s Project Moonshot servers. What is new is that HP may make that Cloud OS available externally as yet another OpenStack distribution, company executives said Tuesday.

openstacklogoThe decision has not been made, but Saar Gillai, SVP of HP’s Converged Cloud group, said the company has seen tremendous demand for its particular flavor of OpenStack.

“Even companies that want to build telco equipment say ‘I want the distro I tried in the sandbox versus what’s out there from the various Linux vendors,'” he said.

Linux vendors that also offer OpenStack distributions are Red Hat(s rhat), Canonical/Ubuntu and SUSE, once part of Novell and now owned by Attachmate.

How many OpenStacks do we really need?

Any decision to offer an HP-branded OpenStack shows HP’s desire to accelerate adoption of an enterprise-class OpenStack instead of waiting for the OpenStack community to gel around one, said Dana Gardner, GigaOM Research analyst and principal of Interarbor Solutions.

Face it, OpenStack has lots of contributors and tons of vendor support — but speed of actual adoption isn’t wowing anybody. Last spring we saw some improvement as big several big companies — Best Buy, Bloomberg, Comcast(s cmcst) and Hubspot — talked about their implementations at the OpenStack Summit. But OpenStack needs to see more and better adoption as Amazon Web Services(s amzn) continues to gain more — and more enterprise — customers and other cloud options like VMware’s vCloud Hybrid Services coming online.

“The OpenStack process is not fast — it’s a big community — and there was pushback last year that it wasn’t as ready for primetime as it could be and  you had CloudStack out there saying ‘nyah-nyah-nyah,’ we’re more mature,'” Gardner said.

HP seems to have “gotten” the open source religion with its embrace of Android (e.g. non-Windows) devices and OpenStack (e.g. non Windows and non-VMware cloud). Its recruitment of Bill Hilf, Microsoft’s former and respected open-source evangelist, to help lead its converged cloud effort is telling.

Fear of fracturing

The tension between speed and conformity to standards is always an issue. In open source projects there can be fear of one, large vendor big footing the process. There is risk that HP’s move could upset the OpenStack apple cart, but that depends on how it’s done. If it cycles back enhancements to the community, other vendors may be relieved of a lot heavy lifting.

There is consensus even among the dozens of OpenStack vendors that there will be consolidation — of course none of those vendors expect themselves to be the victims of any winnowing.