What’s going on with Intel and OpenStack?

Is Intel backing away from the OpenStack Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud? Good question, but I don’t see it happening myself.

The story that questions Intel’s commitment to OpenStack was sparked by news that Intel was pulling out of its Rackspace partnership, the OpenStack Innovation Center. This was a software-testing project meant to encourage the use of OpenStack in the enterprise. Intel and Rackspace both insisted the companies remain committed to OpenStack.

While that has to be true for Rackspace, which is built around OpenStack, Intel could potentially play other cards in the cloud market. Many people assumed Intel was getting ready to leave OpenStack behind.

Paul Miller, a Forrester analyst, described the reaction as “wailing, gnashing of teeth, and portents of doom.” But, was it really that bad? Nah, said Miller.

As Miller explained, “You see, the OpenStack Innovation Center isn’t an initiative of the OpenStack Foundation. Despite the name, it was only a joint initiative of two contributors to the OpenStack project — Intel and (OpenStack co-founder) Rackspace. They set up some clusters, for developers to test code. And they did some work to make OpenStack more enterprise-ready. Both efforts were useful, for sure. But both of these things were already happening in plenty of other places.”

Mark Collier, OpenStack’s COO, added in an OpenStack e-mail message, “Contrary to some of the wilder theories on social media, there are no signs that Intel or Rackspace are abandoning OpenStack.”

For proof, he offered the following points:

– Both Intel and Rackspace are high level sponsors of the OpenStack Summit next month in Boston.

– Intel is giving a keynote in Boston.

I’ll add another one: Mirantis, a major OpenStack company, has announced its new single integrated distribution of OpenStack, and Kubernetes container management, Mirantis Cloud Platform (MCP) 1.0, was built with Intel’s help.

Lisa Davis, Intel’s Data Center Group VP and general manager of Enterprise & Government IT Modernization, added “over the last two years, Intel has worked closely with Mirantis to optimize OpenStack to meet the requirements of large enterprise and comms service providers’ environments. Examples of our joint work include improved network, storage, and high-availability capabilities as well as Kubernetes enhancements. Customers will now be able to take advantage of these optimizations with this release of the Mirantis Cloud Platform.”

So, taken all-in-all, it seems to me that Intel remains committed to OpenStack — and all this uproar about Intel leaving the project is much “adieu” about nothing.

Still, Intel is changing. If you still think of Intel as a silicon company, it’s time to think again.

Intel recently announced it was shutting down its top trade show, Intel Developer Forum, after 16 very successful years.

Why? Intel told AnandTech that, “Intel has been changing rapidly over the last two-to-three years, especially as they are changing from a PC-centric company to a data-centric company.”

Data-centric? That doesn’t sound like Intel to me. But, then Microsoft still doesn’t sound like a service company to me, but with Azure and Office 365’s rise that’s exactly what it’s become. So why not Intel too?

This brief comment from Intel also tells me that there’s no way Intel will be moving away from the cloud. Just as the 8086 processor used to be the heart of IT computing, today the cloud plays that role. Sure, the cloud’s largely powered by x86 CPUs, but profits today lay in software, not the underlying hardware.


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