This article is an update version of my previous article CY12-Q1 Community Analysis — OpenStack vs OpenNebula vs Eucalyptus vs CloudStack. Readers who are intested in further discussions please contact me via email at the above-mentioned address.
A Chinese version of this article is published at the same time, which can be found at CY12-Q2 OpenStack, OpenNebula, Eucalyptus, CloudStack社区活跃度比较.
The objective of this article is to compare the OpenStack, OpenNebula, Eucalytpus and CloudStack user and developer communities, base on the communications between community members in the form of mailing lists or pubic forum discussions. The data being discussed include the total number of topics (threads), messages (posts), and participants (unique email addresses or registered members). To obtain the above-mentioned data, a Java program was written to retrieve all the forum posts and mailing list messages into a MySQL database for further processing. The analysis results were presented in the form of graphs generated by LibreOffice.
It should be noted that the Eucalyptus project replaced their original forums with a new forum which is called Engage. In addition to the Engage forum, Eucalyptus also started supporting mailing lists, which are indepedent of the Engage forum. It seems that the Engage forum is basically used for technical support, while the mailing lists focus on community discussions.
After being donated to the Apache Foundation, the CloudStack project also migrated to new forums and mailing lists.
The above-mentioned migrations might bring impacts on community activities.
Figure 1 and 2 represent the monthly number of topics (threads) and posts (messages). During the past 3 months, discussions related to OpenStack and CloudStack increased rapidly. At the same time, OpenNebula-related discussions seem to decrease, while Eucalyptus-related discussions are growing slowly. Among the four projects being discussed, the Eucalyptus-related numbers are relatively low.
It should be noted that the CloudStack-related numbers seem to be abnormal in April. This can be attributed to their migration to the new forums and mailing lists. The May and June numbers are growing very fast, which can be considered as positive feedbacks of the donation event (in early April, the CloudStack project was donated to the Apache Foundation after being acquied by Citrix).
Eucalyptus also started their new forum and mailing lists in April. This migration did not produce much impact on community activities. This is because there exist no major changes in either engineering or marketing during the same period. Eucalyptus announced their return to the open source community in June 20, but it will take a month or so to observe any community resp0nse.
Eucalyptus and CloudStack offer both forums and mailing lists. For Eucalyptus, 1/3 of their community traffic were from the Engage forum, while the rest 2/3 were from the mailing lists. For CloudStack, only 1/5 of their community traffic were from the forums, while the rest 4/5 were from the mailing lists. Assuming the both projects were spending fairly between forums and mailing lists, it seems that mailing lists are more attractive to community members.
Generally speaking, the number of replies to a specific topic represents the attention being received, and the depth of discussion for that particular topic. When the number of master posts (the original post that started a particular topic) is more than the number of replies, it is safe to conclude that the participation of the forum or mailing list is very low. Therefore, the ratio between “the number of posts” and “the number of topics” represents the participation rate of an online community. In this study we call this ratio the Participatin Ratio.
During the past three months, the participation ratios of OpenNebula, Eucalyptus and CloudStack were very close. The participation ratio of OpenStack is twice as high as the other three.
Figure 4 shows the number of monthly participants of the four projects being discussed. During the past 3 months, the CloudStack numbers were growing at the fastest pace, OpenStack and Eucalyptus were growing at a relately slower pace, while OpenNebula was declining slowly. For both Eucalyptus and OpenNebula, the number of active participants is about 1/2 of OpenStack and CloudStack.
Accumulated Community Population refers to the total number of users and developers who have participated in forum or mailing list discussions. (This number does not include those who have registered into discussion forums or mailing lists but have never participated in any open discussions.) These are people who have tested or used a specific product for a while, but not necessary currently an active user. A new product release, or a promotion event, might be able to reactivate some of them.
Figure 5 shows the accumulated community populations of the four projects being discussed. The Eucalyptus project still has the biggest population, while the others three are very close. For the first time the population of OpenStack exceeded OpenNebula. Also, the population of CloudStack will exceed OpenNebula in a very short period.
Figure 5 shows the monthly population growth of the four projects being discussed. During the past 3 months, OpenStack’s population growth is much faster than the others. CloudStack is also growing at a very fast rate, while Eucalyptus and OpenNebula are relatively slow.
It should be noted that the OpenNebula project exhibited zero population growth in June.
In my previous article CY12-Q1 Community Analysis — OpenStack vs OpenNebula vs Eucalyptus vs CloudStack, I predicted that the pouplation of OpenStack and CloudStack will exceed that of OpenNebula in 6~9 months. Because OpenNebula is growing way too slowly, OpenStack achieve this goal in only 3 months. It is expected that CloudStack will achieve the same goal in another 3 months.
Figure 7 is a combination of Figure 4 and Figure 6. The solid lines represent the monthly participants, while the dash lines represent the monthly new members.
For OpenStack and OpenNebula, around 30% of their monthly participants are new members. For CloudStack and Eucalyptus, around 50% of their monthly participants are new members. This indicates OpenStack and OpenNebula communities are more “sticky” than CloudStack and Eucalyptus communities.
Figure 8 shows the total community population, active participants of the past quarter, and active participants of the past month, of the four projects being discussed. It can be seen that Eucalyptus has the largest population and the least number of active participants (which is at the same level as OpenNebula). For OpenStack, the active participants of the past quarter is 55% of its total population, and the active participants of the past month is 28% of its total population. For CloudStack, the active participants of the past quarter is 40% of its total population, and the active participants of the past month is 26% of its total population.
The fast growth of the OpenStack community should be attributed first to their marketing efforts. The project still lacks some important functionalities for commercial deployment (Eucalyptus and CloudStack are relatively more mature for commercial deployment in terms of functionality), the steady advertising, public relationship, marketing, and partnership efforts have earned them the most vibrant user community, which will pave the road for their future commercial success.
Citrix donated CloudStack to the Apache Foundation right after the acquisition. This has been proved to be a highly successful marketing effort.
Eucalyptus hired Greg Dekoenigsburg as its VP of Community from RedHat in October 2011. It seems that Greg DeKoenigsburg is focusing on building customer circles rather than communities. The Eucalyptus community now has a new look and feel (the Engage forum and the mailing lists), but the volume and activity of the community remain unchanged. On May 20th, Eucalyptus announced that it will return to its open source roots by combining its enterprise edition and the community edition to provide a single open source product. This strategic effort will earn Eucalyptus competitive edges in terms of functionality and commercial readiness. However, the future of Eucalyptus depends on whether the company will continously invest in building communities. Marten Mickos, the current Eucalyptus CEO, said during his tenure as the CEO of MySQL (in 2007) that success in open source requires you to serve (1) those who spend time to save money, and (2) those who spend money to save time. In an open source ecosystem, the mojarity belongs to those who spend time to save monty, and among them those who spend money to save time will emerge. At the time being, Eucalyptus did accomplish some commercial success as compared to its competitors. (And so does OpenNebula.) The problem is, should Eucalyptus continues to invest most of its resources on those who will spend money to save time (obviously potential customers), it will gradually lose those who will spend time to save money. When the volume of its active user community continues to shrink, even current paying customers will investigate the possibility of using alternative solutions.
As for the OpenNebula project, this is probably the right time to hire a full time community manager. When the project released version 3.4 on April 11th (and incremental release 3.4.1 on May 3rd), it doesn’t even make a splash among the bigger cloud computing community. Considering the fact that OpenNebula is capable of maintaining an active community that is comparable to that of Eucalyptus at near zero marketing cost, it is safe to conclude that OpenNebula does meet the the requirements from a large number of cloud computing practioners in terms of both functionality and support. Should OpenNebula carry out marketing campaigns in a way that is similar to OpenStack, its community will continue to grow in terms of population and activeness.