Oracle finally embraces OpenStack, but questions linger

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It took long enough, but Oracle announced last week it was joining OpenStack and incorporating it into its products in a big way  –but not everyone believes the hardware vendor has found open source religion.

Of course, Oracle has spilled a bit of open source bad blood in recent years so when it says it embraces an open source standard, it’s not as though the open source community jumps up and down with glee about it. It’s more likely that the OpenStack community is more than pleased to see Oracle join the party, but they may wonder if the hardware giant has some ulterior motives, rightly or not.

Oracle bought a lot of Open Source IP when it purchased Sun in 2009 and so far, at least, its record as stewards of that IP is spotty at best. We’ve written about how Google and others are moving away from MySQL to MariaDB because of fears that Oracle, which sued Google over Java use in Android, probably didn’t want to rely too heavily on software controlled by the same company.

And let’s not forget Oracle axed support for GlassFish, the Java Enterprise Edition (JEE) 7 Server recently after dropping support for OpenOffice and OpenSolaris earlier. As we wrote, Oracle makes business decisions like any other company, so what does this mean for OpenStack?

OpenStack is much bigger than Oracle of course. It’s a vibrant open source community started by the unlikely pair of NASA and Rackspace and which according to the website has grown to 13,337 people in 132 countries. Supporters include HP, Red Hat, AT&T, Dell, VMware and Intel.

In other words, Oracle is just one of the gang here. They can use OpenStack or they can ignore it, but whatever they do, the organization doesn’t pivot on Oracle’s decisions. Unlike the Sun IP, Oracle is not in control of OpenStack.

But Randy Bias, CEO of Cloudscaling writing on Informationweek has trepidation about Oracles’ involvement just the same. “It’s hard not to have a certain amount of pessimism about Oracle’s announcement. However, I’m hopeful that this signals an understanding of the market realities and that its intentions are in the right place,” Bias wrote in his post. He added, that the proof will be whether they put their considerable money where their mouth is and start contributing to the OpenStack code base in a meaningful way.

In fact, as other large organizations from Cisco to VMware to Intel join the party, there is a concern at least that the community could lose its way to big corporate interests.

There is a another way to look at this of course. These large organizations have taken notice of OpenStack because it’s a standard worth supporting and they recognize that. At the end of the day, that could be why Oracle joined in. They simply didn’t want to be left behind as these other large organizations get involved.

There may be nothing more to it than that. Oracle saw the trend and couldn’t ignore it anymore.

Photo Credit:  ahockley on Flickr. Used under CC 2.0 license.