Ask not what OpenStack can do for you...

Over the last months I've seen more and more tweets and news articles using the formulation "OpenStack should", as in "OpenStack should support Amazon APIs since it's the de-facto standard". I think there is a fundamental misconception there and I'd like to address it.

As a quick aside (and contrary to what the twittersphere sometimes report), it should be noted that OpenStack Nova always supported the Amazon EC2 API, and that OpenStack Swift grew an Amazon S3 compatibility layer last year. That said, I'll be the first to admit that one could rightfully claim that the AWS API support in OpenStack is in less better shape than the OpenStack API support. But the reason behind it is not some "OpenStack strategy", it's a reflection of the participating companies focus.

OpenStack is a true Open Innovation project. It's a collaboration ground where multiple companies are free to invest development resources to care about the stuff that is important to them. It's an influence game where you need to donate developers to play: OpenStack is the playing field, not the players that push the ball.

Red Hat cared about QPID support, they fielded developers to make it happen in OpenStack. EC2 API support is originally in Nova because NASA cared about it. Then with the increase of Rackspace's influence on the project, the OpenStack API grew faster. Now with Canonical (and others) interest, Amazon's API support is getting better. Ultimately, code talks, and you can make things happen. That's what makes OpenStack so appealing but also so confusing to the industry.

As "OpenStack", we need to make sure the playing field is level (and hopefully the Foundation will be set up soon enough to address that) and that the code is modular and welcoming. But it's up to the participating companies, which throw development resources at the project, to invest in what's important for them or their customers. And maintain it over the long run.

So whenever you say "OpenStack should", ask yourself if you shouldn't really be saying... [Rackspace, Cisco, HP, IBM, Red Hat...] should. Ask not what OpenStack can do for you. Ask what you can do for OpenStack.