When I wrote about Openstack last week, I talked about the disruptive potential of an Openstack.org and how it can make the market by empowering the smaller players.
Many people who dismiss Openstack.org as a non-starter fail to understand that it is just a start. Openstack.org doesn’t claim it has the miracle pill for all the ills in the cloud. It is a new initiative and it is just starting off. In fact, the compute code is not even ready. In my opinion, it is a start and any outright dismissal or claims of victory is not only premature but also amateurish. The only thing it offers is a potential to disrupt the cloud marketplace in the future. There are many factors in play before we can even see the results of this move. If they execute it right, it can stir up the marketplace. It may not destroy the leading players in the market. The best I expect from this initiative is that it will level the marketplace by making it easy for smaller players to jump in and try their chance.
In my opinion, there is a strong need for competition in the marketplace because it is the only way we can ensure a continuous innovation. Yes, Amazon is innovating rapidly today even with its current runaway lead. However, if the market lacks strong competition against Amazon, soon they will stop innovating and focus on protecting their monopoly type lead using their muscle power. In my opinion, Openstack is a good alternative with tremendous potential to disrupt the market and make it competitive.
Looks like Simon Wardley, a researcher at the Leading Edge Forum at CSC, said the same thing after talking to executives at Amazon Web Services in July, 2007. From his blog post from 2007, he writes
I met Jeff Barr some time ago. I told him that in my opinion the smart thing would be for Amazon to open source EC2 & S3, encourage competitors and compete on price and service – take first leader advantage, establish the market. If they don’t, someone else could disrupt their market by doing this to them. I asked Werner the same thing at FOWA and he talked about their “secret sauce”. I reckon all that is needed is an open sourced utility computing engine being adopted by small ISPs and they are going to have a fight on their hands.
Well, all I can do is to admire Simon’s forward thinking at a time when cloud computing was yet to gain attention beyond the geeks. I agree with Simon completely and hope that the folks at Openstack.org execute it well. If done right, Openstack will lure smaller players including many webhosts trying to position themselves to be an important player in the cloud world. Such an adoption will offer the much needed competition for Amazon Web Services and force them to keep innovating. Any marketplace where the major player continues to innovate consistently is a winning situation for the customers. Let us wait and see if Simon’s words turns out to be prophetic.