OpenStack, Backed By Heavy-Hitters, Delivers its First Major Release

by Ostatic Staff - Oct. 22, 2010

Back in July, Rackspace and NASA announced an effort to create sophisticated open source cloud computing infrastructure that could compete with proprietary offerings. Dubbed the OpenStack project, it's targeted to manage both software-centric and storage-centric aspects of cloud computing, focusing on clusters that can leverage distributed resources. The platform is now available under an Apache license, and NASA and Rackspace have discussed plans to switch their current cloud computing infrastructures to OpenStack, in an effort to leverage a more scalable platform. OpenStack has substantial resources behind it, and is yet another sign that open source cloud efforts are to be taken seriously.

According to OpenStack's 5-minute overview

"OpenStack is a collection of open source technology products delivering a scalable, secure, standards-based cloud computing software solution. OpenStack is currently developing two interrelated technologies: OpenStack Compute and OpenStack Object Storage. OpenStack Compute is the internal fabric of the cloud creating and managing large groups of virtual private servers and OpenStack Object Storage is software for creating redundant, scalable object storage using clusters of commodity servers to store terabytes or even petabytes of data."

Of course, OpenStack is hardly the first credible effort to challenge proprietary platforms in the cloud with open source offerings. We've covered many of the promising efforts to do so, including Eucalyptus Systems' ongoing work. It's eye-opening, though, to look at the community behind OpenStack. Not only are Rackspace and NASA involved, but so are Citrix, Puppet Labs and many others.

Additionally, it's interesting to note that some of the proprietary players in the cloud are embracing OpenStack. For example, Microsoft has announced integration between Windows Server and OpenStack. “Support for Windows Server Hyper-V on OpenStack reinforces Microsoft’s commitment to delivering choice and flexibility to customers in the cloud,” said Ted MacLean, general manager for the Open Solutions Group at Microsoft, in a statement. “Giving customers the option to use Microsoft’s enterprise-ready virtualization platform, Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V, when they deploy OpenStack as their cloud solution is a win for all.”

With its first release out, dubbed Austin, it will be interesting to see if some of the heavy-hitters behind OpenStack can make a strong case for it. As GigaOm has noted, OpenStack includes a fully distributed object store based on Rackspace Cloud Files, and a scalable compute-provisioning engine designed for large deployments.

Can a consortium of big players challenge the mighty proprietary competitors in the cloud or integrate with their offerings successfully? That's exactly the question that OpenStack is asking, and with its first official release now out, we'll be hearing more from the folks behind this project. Meanwhile, look into our thoughts on what it will take for open source cloud competitors to succeed.