Rackspace Backs the Open Source Cloud

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Rackspace Hosting (RAX) is tying the future of its fast-growing cloud computing business to the potential for open source code to bring standards to the cloud, and many industry players are joining the effort. Rackspace said late Sunday that it was donating the code for its Cloud Files and Cloud Servers offerings to OpenStack, a new open source cloud platform that will also incorporate code from the NASA Nebula Cloud Platform.

OpenStack is the most comprehensive effort to date to focus the energies of the open source community around cloud technology that can provide a focal point for development and growth, while also providing a competitive counterpoint to propriaetary platforms from Google and Microsoft. A widely-supported open source cloud would also have appeal for enterprise customers, who are wary of “lock-in” and keen on the ability to easily migrate between providers.

OpenStack will be of particular interest to web hosting companies, who have been leading adopters of the Apache server, Linux operating system and other open source technologies. The announcement comes as the hosting industry gathers in Austin for HostingCon 2010, while the open source community meets at OSCON in Portland, Oregon.

Long List of Participants
Rackspace and NASA have committed to use OpenStack to power their cloud platforms. Other companies participating in the project include SoftLayer, RightScale, Peer 1 Hosting, iomart Group, Cloud.com, Citrix, Opscode, Puppet Labs and Limelight Networks (see the full list on the OpenStack web site). Rackspace said it will dedicate open-source developers and resources to support adoption of OpenStack among enterprises and service providers. 

“We are founding the OpenStack initiative to help drive industry standards, prevent vendor lock-in and generally increase the velocity of innovation in cloud technologies,” said Lew Moorman, President of the Rackspace Cloud. “We are proud to have NASA’s support in this effort.  Its Nebula Cloud Platform is a tremendous boost to the OpenStack community. We expect ongoing collaboration with NASA and the rest of the community to drive more-rapid cloud adoption and innovation, in the private and public spheres.” 

Thought leaders in the open source movement hailed the initiative as a key step in the development of the cloud computing model. “If cloud computing is the future, then understanding how to make that future open is one of the great technology challenges of our day,” said Tim O’Reilly of O’Reilly Media. “Rackspace and NASA are taking an amazing step towards my vision of an open cloud future.”

OpenStack will debut with a distributed object store based on Rackspace Cloud Files, and plans to release a scalable compute-provisioning engine based on NASA Nebula and Rackspace Cloud Servers technology, which is expected to be available later this year.

“NASA and Rackspace are uniquely positioned to drive this initiative based on our experience in building large scale cloud platforms and our desire to embrace open source,” said Chris C. Kemp, NASA’s Chief Technology Officer for IT. 

An OpenStack Design Summit hosted by Rackspace was held July 13-16 in Austin, where more than 100 technical advisors, developers and founding members joined to validate the code and ratify the project roadmap.

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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