Three Open Source-Based Cloud Alternatives to OpenStack

Maybe you’re waiting for OpenStack to mature. Maybe you’re testing OpenStack internally but want to see what else is out there. Or maybe you’re just curious. Regardless, now that we’ve taken a look at what OpenStack is up against when it comes to Amazon Web Services and VMware, here’s a look at how a few other open source projects stack up (pun very much intended).

Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus Systems, one of the first private cloud platform providers to describe itself as such, is probably at least passingly familiar to many. Essentially, Eucalyptus Enterprise Edition, the company’s flagship product (a free, entirely open source community edition is also available), enables IT pros to turn commodity hardware into an elastic, scalable private cloud, with Amazon EC2 and S3 API support a huge selling point.

Indeed, Amazon Web Services was so taken with how well Eucalyptus played with its ecosystem that it named the company its official private cloud partner, with AWS officially supporting workload bursting and portability between Eucalyptus Enterprise Edition and its public cloud platform.

When it comes to OpenStack, there’s some latent enmity there: Eucalyptus was the original platform that powered Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud, but as of Ubuntu Server 11.10, OpenStack became the default (though Eucalyptus is still an option).

It speaks to a certain philosophical rift between the two. OpenStack is putting a lot of backbone into quickly building an ecosystem of public and private cloud providers with open standards. Meanwhile, Eucalyptus is getting cozy with the currently winning team.

It’s certainly a valid approach, and one that was validated by last week’s announcement that Eucalyptus Systems had raised $30 million in Series C funding. And even before AWS singled out Eucalyptus, it was a successful solo act that could lay claim to being the most widely-deployed private cloud platform out there. But while Eucalyptus has Amazon’s muscle behind it, OpenStack has Dell, HP, Intel, Canonical and many other major market forces behind it, rapidly beefing up the platform’s marketability.

CloudStack

Even before Citrix handed its CloudStack platform – which it owned thanks to the acquisition of Cloud.com in 2011 – over to the Apache Foundation and largely walked away from the OpenStack project, there was some consternation over how the two could possibly coexist. Two open source-based cloud platforms that made workload portability a priority was seen by many as just one too many.

The thing with CloudStack and OpenStack, as I hinted in some of my impressions from last week’s OpenStack Conference, is that while it’s certainly no longer the buzzworthy project it once was, it’s not in the elephant graveyard just yet. Before Citrix killed its participation in the product, CloudStack was a commercially-available platform that many service providers were using in production environments.

And while CloudStack can’t brag about having the major leagues of tech helping develop it, the Apache Foundation generally knows what it’s doing, and has big plans for the platform. There is every possibility that the platform will attract enough interest from the open source community that it’s going to put itself back in the spotlight. Besides, CloudStack community members Alcatel-Lucent and Juniper aren’t exactly lightweights.

But it’s not really a competition, either. CloudStack supports the OpenStack Swift object storage system, and the two projects are collaborating on a framework to verify AWS compatibility, or so I’m informed. With both OpenStack and CloudStack available freely to the open source community, the two can mature together while also competing for customers.

Joyent

In a relatively shameless grab for customers and developers, service provider Joyent spread flyers around the OpenStack Conference’s developer lounge, promoting a special package deal designed to appeal to those in attendance who have yet to make up their mind about cloud platforms.

Basically, Joyent is reaching out with its SmartDataCenter Adoption Program, encouraging users to take advantage of a program that would give new customers a year’s license for its SmartDataCenter private cloud platform software, a main operationsserver license and two node licenses, as well as basic-level support.

Joyent SmartDataCenter is based on the open source Joyent SmartOS cloud operating system, itself a fork of Illumos, and which Joyent has based its public cloud offerings on for the better part of a decade. Digging into SmartOS’ FAQ, it appears more than possible to use SmartOS in conjunction with an orchestration platform like CloudStack, OpenStack or Eucalyptus for a free private cloud with many of the same advantages.

Joyent’s flyer says that, compared to an OpenStack deployment, SmartDataCenter can offer the same performance with half the servers, twice the security, and a third of the cost. It’s clearly designed to appeal to those who question OpenStack’s production readiness – it’s open source-based, sort of, supports KVM for any x86 OS, and it’ll turn right on.

It’s not exactly competing in the same market as Eucalyptus, CloudStack or OpenStack. But I’m including Joyent for that same audacity in going right to the OpenStack community for new customers, for building on top of the open-source SmartOS, and for the service provider’s extraordinary claim in the flyer that “once you get up and running with a Joyent-powered cloud, you’ll want to standardize on Joyent technology.”

Your Angle

For those of you who have test-driven or fully deployed one or more of these cloud platforms, what’s your take? Can OpenStack catch up to more established, open source-friendly platforms?