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The most important Cloud acquisitions this year have one thing in common: OpenStack.
The top cloud deals of 2014
2014's slate of cloud deals reflect a few important trends in the market for the open source cloud software. One is that traditional enterprise vendors continue to see potential in OpenStack and they're willing to shell out the cash to buy the expertise and technology they need to pursue the market.
The second is that despite interest from those big vendors, actual adoption of OpenStack hasn't happened as quickly as some people might have hoped. The result is that some of the startups, even trendsetters like Cloudscaling, are open to acquisition as they realize they may not be able to make it on their own.
EMC buys Cloudscaling for an unconfirmed $50 million
The rationale: With more workloads moving to the cloud, EMC knows its storage products have to be in the running for businesses building cloud operations. While EMC is an obvious option for VMware shops given that it owns VMware, it's not always top of mind in the open source world. With its platform for building private OpenStack clouds, Cloudscaling gives EMC a foot in the door in the OpenStack community.
It remains to be seen if a culture clash will lead to hiccups, however. Cloudscaling, with its outspoken founder Randy Bias, has a reputation as a scrappy upstart. EMC, on the other hand, is more of a staid, traditional vendor.
Impact: With the backing of a giant like EMC, Cloudscaling is likely to stabilize and become more attractive to enterprises. But being backed by a giant often means slower innovation. Combined with the potential for less choice for users, this deal slightly tips negative in terms of potential benefit to users.
HP buys Eucalytpus for an unconfirmed $100 million
The rationale: HP's press release about the deal focused heavily on the fact that Marten Mickos, Eucalyptus's CEO, will run HP's cloud business. There was essentially no mention of Eucalyptus's technology – a private cloud platform that's compatible with AWS. It's hard not to think that HP bought Eucalyptus primarily to get Mickos, who was also previously CEO of MySQL.
Impact: The fact that Eucalyptus couldn't go it alone seems to prove that a community-based open source project like OpenStack has a better chance of success than an open source platform driven by one company, like Eucalyptus. Chalk this up as a win for the OpenStack community.
Cisco buys Metacloud for an undisclosed sum
The rationale: With Metacloud, Cisco gets a unique technology that delivers an OpenStack private cloud as a service, remotely managing the cloud for customers. Cisco has actually had its own OpenStack distribution for years, but you'd be forgiven for not knowing it existed. The Metacloud deal lets Cisco sell customers server hardware combined with a well-known platform for running a cloud.
Impact: Customers and potential customers lose another independent service provider, which offered users lots of choice, but gains a backer determined to be successful in OpenStack. This one is a wash.
Red Hat buys eNovance for $95 million
The rationale: Red Hat wants to dominate OpenStack and with eNovance it gains deployment expertise, since eNovance is in the business of helping customers build OpenStack clouds.
Impact: The presumed loss of choice for eNovance customers pushes this deal into the negative column for customers.
Red Hat buys Inktank for $175 million
The rationale: Adding Inktank's Ceph object and block storage software to its existing Gluster file system storage gives Red Hat a more complete portfolio of storage offerings. Also, as Ceph is popular among OpenStack users, the deal makes sense as part of Red Hat's enthusiastic support of OpenStack.
Impact: If Red Hat does indeed allow Ceph to continue to support non-Red Hat products, this deal should be a solid win for OpenStack users. Ceph has proved valuable to the OpenStack community and can benefit from Red Hat's experience running open source projects and delivering open source products.
OpenStack isn't everything
Not every cloud deal this year has been about OpenStack.
Google bought StackDriver to deliver better monitoring tools to users of its cloud services.
Red Hat, clearly on a bit of a buying spree this year, scooped up FeedHenry, one of the leading providers of backend as a service capabilities.
IBM made at least three cloud related acquisitions this year, including of CrossIdeas and Lighthouse Security Group, two providers of cloud security products. IBM also bought Cloudant, a NoSQL database as a service provider.
Earlier this year, Citrix bought ScaleXtreme, a company that had developed a service that businesses could use to manage both their internal private clouds and their use of public clouds.
Microsoft bought InMage for technology that helps users back up, replicate and quickly recover data and apps in case of downtime. Microsoft also scooped up GreenButton for technology that helps developers cloud-enable their apps.