OpenStack Wants to Be Android of The Cloud

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Say hello to OpenStack, an open-source cloud platform, which hopes to compete with several proprietary cloud platforms including those being developed by Microsoft (s MSFT) and VMware (s VMW). RackSpace (s RAX) is spearheading the project and is donating the code that powers its Cloud Files and Cloud Servers to the OpenStack project. The project is also going to incorporate technology from the Nebula Cloud Platform developed by NASA.

Here are the key components of the platform:

* a fully distributed object store based on Rackspace Cloud Files. (Available now for download.)
* a scalable compute-provisioning engine based on the NASA Nebula cloud technology and Rackspace Cloud Servers. (Available later this year.)

Research Report: Defining Internal Cloud Options: From Appistry to VMware

Using the OpenStack software, any company can turn physical hardware into an internal/hybrid cloud platform. The new open source platform, which is going to be made available under an Apache license, will be maintained by a not-for-profit organization. Rackspace and NASA are adopting the platform as well. In addition, Rackspace is going to funnel resources and developers into the project to support the adoption of OpenStack by corporations and service providers.

So far, the group has gained a lot of support, mostly from vendors. Nearly 25 companies (big and small) such as Intel (s INTC), Citrix, Riptano, Dell (s DELL), Cloud.com, AMD (s AMD) and Scalr have signed on for the new platform. 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. (From the Archives: 11 Open Source resources for cloud computing.)

Manage OpenStack From iPhone

“What Android is to smartphone operating systems, we want OpenStack to be for the cloud,” Lew Moorman, President of Rackspace’s cloud operations told me. In order for that to happen, the not-for-profit group needs to get a lot of traction (a handful of financial companies are currently trying out the new service). There is no denying that there is a need to build an underlying platform, however, and while a whole slew of companies are trying to offer up their own unique twists of enterprise, carrier and hybrid clouds, OpenStack offers a way to commoditize the entire cloud infrastructure.

Developers Developers Developers

Chris Kemp, NASA’s Chief Technology Officer for IT (who spoke at our Structure 2010 conference) told me that about two years ago, his organization got excited about the potential of cloud computing but the demands his organization were of supercomputing scale. “We were looking for a platform that was ten times the size of what was out there,” he recalls. So they started working on a platform that could scale, along with other attributes of the cloud such as elasticity and shared resources. “NASA will benefit from this community of developers who will be contributing the code,” Kemp says.

Commoditize the Cloud

For Racksapce, championing OpenStack is a way to get back to business as usual. “We were forced to invest in the (cloud) platform, whether through buying or investing in development resources,” Moorman says. Rackspace benefitted from the standard web-hosting tools and a commoditized hardware stack because it allowed them to focus on doing what they do best, he adds – offer managed services.

“We want access to technology, not to create technologies,” Moorman says. The evolution to cloud is no different, he argues. OpenStack is a step towards building standard tools that anyone can use. “We are trying to commoditize the cloud technologies for easier deployments,” he adds.

20 Comments

Max - The IT Pro

Nice informative post. However, Ryan is right on the money: “The explanation of this technology is very vague. Is it a distributed OS, Framework? Does it do distributed computing and storage? Does it scale Google / Facebook level scaling and performance?”

I’ve now been in East Africa for 5 years (came down here on a 1 week business trip from Silicon Valley North – Ottawa, Canada – and haven’t left yet) and soundbites of this cloud computing thingy is what I’ve been hearing about, over & over.
Is it not safe to say Google’s massive data stack is also cloud computing? They seem to scale pretty damn well to me.

Hence when Eddie asks — “Google oh Google, where art though Google? Om, what is Google’s core competency these days anyway?” — my reply is that all that massive scaling they’ve been doing for a good decade now is pretty damn IMPRESSIVE, whateva u wanna call it. Oh, so peeps are now calling it “cloud computing??” Well, Google’s been there, done that…and quietly. I don’t know anyone else on the Net who can SCALE as well as they DO.

So my question simply is this: Does this OpenStack thingy allow peeps like me to effortlessly bring Google-style scaling to the masses here in the East Africa Community (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda)?

Ryan

The explanation of this technology is very vague. Is it a distributed OS, Framework? Does it do distributed computing and storage? Does it scale Google / Facebook level scaling and performance?

All these terms of cloud, they do not describe the capabilities of the technology. If it is not distributed by plugging in a new system and it scale by computing power, storage and scale across locations with performance and redundancy, then it is usually just a VM in a datacenter, which in my opinion is not the cloud!

Eddie – Googles competency was search, until they realized where the money was and they are now a marketing company in disguise! That is their true business!

Eddie

Brilliant! Thanks for writing about this. This is really news (unlike some unnamed techno captain crunchy blogs filling space with superficial posts about certain individuals selling iPads on Craigslist, cough cough).

Important Note: OpenStack and its constituents is not itself geographically rooted in Silicon Valley much to the chagrin of people who still believe that Silicon Valley geography today matters as much as it used to. Well, then again, perhaps Silicon Valley forgot that Marc Andreessen co-authored Mosaic while attending the University of Illinois in a town called Champaign-Urbana, Illinois with its supercomputing facility. Great to see NASA and its supercomputing interests on board with OpenStack. Jeff Bezos AWS could longer term be trumped by OpenStack (no offense to AWS which has out-innovated Microsoft in the cloud space):

the demands his organization were of supercomputing scale. “We were
looking for a platform that was ten times the size of what was out
there,” he recalls.

Google oh Google, where art though Google? Om, what is Google’s core competency these days anyway? Your post about Steve Jobs’ business tips:

Lesson #2: Knowing your core competence and building on it is key
to success.

Google’s core competency is search? Android? Chrome? Buzz? TV? App Engine? Voice? Docs?

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