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Confusing Story of the Week: PayPal Dumping VMware for OpenStack?

News that PayPal and eBay were dumping VMware in favor of OpenStack -- and the VMware stock price drop and media frenzy that followed -- makes me wonder about the influence of technology journalists and how they can so easily jump on rumors and make fools of themselves. The story was basically leaked by the consultancy firm that was supposedly leading the effort. That the leak came from an executive makes me wonder about the technical competency of this company. The story further goes to claim that 80,000 servers will move to OpenStack.

While reading these reports, I wondered, "How will PayPal dump VMware, exactly?" OpenStack is not a hypervisor, so what will the virtual infrastructure be replaced with? And how do you make a headline like that? I thought, "Well maybe they will replace it with Xen or KVM."If that were the case, one of those would probably have been specifically mentioned.

I also wondered, why can't PayPal keep VMware at the infrastructure layer and simply adopt OpenStack at the cloud management layer? After all, OpenStack is really a competitor to VMware's vCloud (not to vSphere virtual infrastructure). In the era of cloud to think that companies as large as PayPal or eBay will standardize on a single virtual infrastructure is not realistic and to think that these companies can afford to dump VMware in favor of any other hypervisor is also unrealistic. It is now acceptable by even the staunchest hardcore believers in one technology over another that most organizations will have a "collage" of hypervisors, and so who cares? Maybe you use certain hypervisors for certain workloads because they work better? And if you layer System Center, OpenStack, CloudStack, or vCloud, then who really cares? They all support them all.

I then started to wonder, does PayPal really have 80,000 virtual servers? Heck, if they do and I have not heard of a virtual environment this large, then something is definitely wrong. Lo and behold, the story started to unravel and all of a sudden the CEO of the consultancy company pretty much publicly denounced one of his executives as someone who is not that familiar with the deal or the technology (I am paraphrasing here). Other reports came in that PayPal did not have 80,000 servers and the story just crashed from there.

It does beg the questions: What happened to responsible journalism? What happened to fact checking? And triple fact checking? What happened to experts who understand what makes sense before they even start typing away on their keyboards?

And one more thing: This story exposed the quality of that consultancy, one with an executive who cannot differentiate between a virtual infrastructure and a cloud management layer. PayPal should be as careful with who it does business with as it is with its own sensitive operation and its integration into our virtual lives. I will never visit PayPal again without wondering if any portion of this infrastructure was planned, designed or implemented by this consultancy firm.

Posted by Elias Khnaser on 04/01/2013 at 12:49 PM


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