Deciding you want a hybrid cloud hosting solution is only the first step on your journey to the cloud. Somewhere along the way, you need to decide what type of cloud platform you want to use. Microsoft offers a very attractive-looking Windows Azure platform for cloud deployment, but it is also facing stiff competition from the open cloud platform known as OpenStack.
In one corner, you have the familiarity of Microsoft products, which many businesses already use in both the office and the data center. Windows Azure is essentially Windows for the cloud, but more importantly, it provides a platform and infrastructure management system for delivering a wide variety of cloud configurations (even Linux virtual machines).
In the other corner is Rackspace’s baby, OpenStack. Supported by over a hundred IT organizations and maintained by a seasoned community of developers, it is free, open source and essentially Linux for the cloud. While offering many of the same platform and infrastructure management features as Azure, OpenStack also gives you the ability to reshape it to be whatever you want.
On the surface, it seems like a pretty level playing field, but the reality is that you have one company, Microsoft, facing off against numerous companies that will offer OpenStack to its customers, much in the same way that Apple might compete against all of the vendors that offer Android. And just like Android vendors, the quality and experience of OpenStack will depend on the vendor you choose to host it.
Microsoft customers will enjoy Microsoft’s public cloud offering, which already has a wide net of infrastructure around the world. On the other hand, OpenStack customers will argue that Microsoft’s platform is a recipe for vendor lock-in. Ultimately, it will be up to the users to decide which fits best for them or if some other cloud platform entirely is better suited to serve their needs.