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OpenStack Summit Organisations could cut their cloudy costs by as much as 50 per cent by bringing AWS apps back into a private cloud, but repatriation is a tricky task requiring more than just tinkering with APIs, according to outspoken Cloudscaling founder Randy Bias.

Bias made a few headlines back in July when he predicted that the open source cloud controller would face “irrelevance and death” if it didn’t support the full set of Amazon Web Services APIs.

At the OpenStack Summit in Hong Kong on Tuesday he was back on his favourite subject, making the case for hybrid deployments as the future of most cloudy needs – giving customers greater choice and flexibility over where their apps go.

While public clouds like AWS and Google Compute Engine are fine for bursts of elastic and “peaky workloads”, private deployments will be favoured for offering greater cost, control and compliance, he argued.

As long as a new OpenStack private cloud is designed to be “semantically, architecturally and behaviourally” as close to public clouds of the AWS/Rackspace ilk as possible then it could save firms up to 50 per cent of the cost of AWS after 3-5 years, Bias claimed.

For those preparing to do just that, however, Bias warned that “abstraction and APIs can only do so much” – that understanding cloud “behaviours” is the key to getting true interoperability between public and private clouds.

An API-driven approach could enable “compatibility”, for example, but may still lead to disparities between the two environments which are difficult to reconcile; things like the time it takes to spin-up a VM, or how block storage snapshots are handled.

OpenStack’s perceived weakness – that it is not a system per se but a “toolkit of stuff to build a system”, with no integrated reference architecture – is its strength here, according to Bias.

“We know that hybrid cloud is the future. I think most people would agree with that,” he added. “So I see OpenStack as key to building that hybrid cloud future. We can built a lot of different OpenStack systems with different purposes for HPC, public cloud, private cloud and so on and some of these will be designed to be public cloud compatible.”

All isn’t completely rosy in the OpenStack family, however. In response to an audience question, Bias admitted that the greatest challenge facing the cloud project was the “disconnect” between users, developers and operators.

Users want interoperability and standardisation and a common reference architecture but developers want to keep OpenStack open and inclusive. Then the operators bluster in trying to “drive requirements into the developers which don’t make sense” like forcing through the use of VMware on OpenStack, he claimed.

A slightly more harmonious picture was painted of the OpenStack community by the likes of OpenStack Foundation executive director, Jonathan Bryce, who gushed about the symbolism of the IaaS movement’s first summit outside of the US.

Some two-thirds of the 3,000+ attendees here are apparently new-comers, which if nothing else shows OpenStack has piqued the interest of IT pros in APAC.

“Does this seem like a community that’s disorganised?” added Rackspace private cloud GM Jim Curry. “The magic of OpenStack is the fact that it’s run by the community – it’s a true meritocracy.” ®

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