Enterprise IT Watch Blog

Jul 22 2010   6:44AM GMT

Mark Collier, Rackspace VP on OpenStack: It actually is rocket science

Melanie Yarbrough Profile: MelanieYarbrough

Rackspace launched their open-source cloud project this past Monday with an out-of-this-world partner. NASA and Rackspace, citing their non-commercial interests as the basis for the relationship, recognized the potential to complement one another in the cloud.

As SearchCloudComputing‘s Carl Brooks reports:

[NASA CTO Chris] Kemp said that just as Rackspace found his work on the compute side valuable, NASA found what it was looking for in cloud storage in Rackspace’s Object Storage technology, which will also be released to the public domain this fall.

So what exactly is OpenStack? It’s Rackspace’s code for Cloud Files and Cloud Servers available to developers. Eventually it’ll also be NASA’s Nebula cloud platform, created to offer a cloud solution for large scientific data sets.

Rackspace CSO and president of cloud technology Lew Moorman told Linux Insider:

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. 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.

One of NASA’s motivating factors for creating Nebula and getting involved in the project was the lack of affordable cloud options for anyone other than businesses. With this initiative, Rackspace wants to spur cloud adoption across the board, including by the federal government. Last week, Amazon released its Cluster Compute Instance in beta, an answer to the scientific community looking for more powerful cloud solutions. And Rackspace isn’t alone in its endeavors either; there are similar offerings from Eucalyptus, which offers “infrastructure software that enables enterprises and government agencies to establish their own cloud computing environments,” and Cloud.com, which offers CloudStack packages for free (community edition), and in open source and proprietary form for both enterprise and service providers.

OpenStack has a leg up on the competition, however, with major names signing onto the project: Citrix, Dell, Intel, Rightscale and about twenty others.

Rackspace’s goal—to leverage a community of developers for innovative additions to the code—might be too lofty for some. John at the CloudBzz blog thinks OpenStack isn’t enterprise-ready. Additionally, any hope for differentiation amongst developer contributions might not be easily realized since every developer is working with the same code and building atop one another might lead to overlap.

But for every naysayer, there’s enthusiasm to match. The New York Times Bits blog picked up the story, equating Rackspace’s potential for achievement as the “next Linux operating system, Firefox Web browser or Android phone platform,” naming their biggest challenge as “getting that software developer critical mass.”

What other obstacles do you think lie between Rackspace and its goals of setting the industry standard, doing away with vendor lock-in and creating an open cloud community?

Melanie Yarbrough is the assistant community editor at ITKnowledgeExchange.com. Follow her on Twitter or send her an email at Melanie@ITKnowledgeExchange.com.

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