VMware Joins OpenStack, Embraces Its ‘Ugly Sister’

VMware is changing its flavor. Again. Image: Clive Darra

The OpenStack governance foundation has released its agenda for tomorrow’s board meeting, and it included a surprise: The board will be voting on whether or not to approve VMware’s application for “gold membership” in the foundation.

OpenStack is an open source system for building cloud infrastructures along the lines of those used by Amazon Web Services. VMware has long been seen as a competitor to OpenStack because of its proprietary vCloud offering. Just last April, VMware’s VP of Cloud Services Mathew Lodge referred to OpenStack as one of vCloud’s “three ugly sisters” (the other two being Eucalyptus and CloudStack).

Why the change of heart? The agenda item was spotted by Barb Darrow at GigaOM, who points out that Nicira, which VMware acquired last month, was a big player in OpenStack.

At the time, John Engates — the chief technology officer of Rackspace, an Amazon competitor and one of the co-founders of OpenStack — told Wired: “I think they [VMware] see value in what OpenStack is building, and I think they believe they have a role to play there.”

Meanwhile, Joshua McKenty, the CEO and founder of Piston Cloud Computing, an OpenStack services company, was cautious. “Is this an honest maneuver? Do they want to drive OpenStack forward? Or is it a trojan horse, where they want to use their position to — not necessarily sabotage — but slow down or steer or change the direction of OpenStack?” he said in an interview with Wired. “I can’t answer that question.”

Darrow also points to VMware’s acquisition of DynamicOps, a company that provides tools for managing multiple virtualization environments, including those from VMware competitors Xen and KVM.