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Summary:

The Rackspace- and NASA-led OpenStack project released the code for its “Bexar” release this morning, which brings a slew of new features, as well as proofs of concept from large enterprises and major new contributors, such as Cisco. With Bexar, OpenStack is ready for production environments.

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The Rackspace- and NASA-led OpenStack project released the code for its “Bexar” release this morning, which brings a slew of new features, as well as proofs of concept (POCs) from large enterprises and major new contributors, such as Cisco. Rackspace announced the open-source, cloud-platform project in July, and Bexar is the second official code release since then. With the Austin release in October, OpenStack’s object storage component was ready for production, but the compute component was limited to test and production. With Bexar, however, the compute component is ready for limited-scale production environments, which means the world can finally begin to see how successful open-source, cloud computing software can be.

According to Jonathan Bryce, chairman of the OpenStack oversight committee, uptake is already good. He told me there are several large POCs based on the Bexar release, from enterprise users “that you definitely would recognize.” Many are in the financial services field, he added, where IT departments already try to operate like service providers for their various business departments, and where they have the technical know-how to work with an early-stage release like Bexar. Some of them are even working on public-facing OpenStack deployments. Although the release has a bunch of key new features, including IPv6 and Hyper-V support, the upcoming “Cactus” release will be more advanced in terms of operations-friendliness and scalability.

Bexar also marked increased involvement from the OpenStack contributor community, which now includes Cisco among its new members. Bryce couldn’t comment on how Cisco is working to integrate OpenStack with its cloud efforts, but he noted that he was surprised when Cisco got involved, and it’s clearly far more than a networking company at this point. I suspect Cisco might be working to make OpenStack the de facto cloud-management platform for its server business, which has does a great job of integrating computing and networking management, but doesn’t yet include cloud software to help users take the end-user experience to the next level.

Overall, said OpenStack VP Jim Curry, 10-20 percent of the Bexar code came directly from contributors, as opposed to very little in the Austin release. This percentage is impressive as is, especially considering contributors really only got active in November, but Curry says it’s rising fast. That’s important, actually, as the whole point of OpenStack is to crowdsource development among some of the best cloud minds around and relieve Rackspace of the burden of trying to write everything itself. Like anyone else that ultimately adopts OpenStack, Rackspace really just wants access to the best platform available.

Bexar is noteworthy, for sure, especially because it has already attracted enterprise users, but all eyes still are on April and the Cactus release. When OpenStack is ready for service-provider scale, it can begin its underlying quest of democratizing access to cloud computing software and getting into the infrastructure-as-a-service business. In Internap, OpenStack already has at least one service provider publicly using its storage component, but computing is arguably where the real action is, as there are many startups and large vendors all pushing their own brands of IaaS software.

Photographic image courtesy of Flickr user melaclaro.

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