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Summary:

NASA, one of the two original backers of the OpenStack project, plans to stop actively developing software for that open-source cloud computing platform. NASA executive Karen Petraskas signaled the move at the Uptime Symposium this week, according to a published report.

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Updated: NASA, which along with Rackspace was one of two original backers of the OpenStack project, will stop developing software for the open-source cloud platform.

Karen Petraska, an executive in NASA’s CIO office, told attendees of the Uptime Symposium on Tuesday that the agency is scaling back development now that the OpenStack has hit the commercialization stage, according to a report in Web Host Industry Review. Rackspace launched its OpenStack public cloud early this month and Hewlett-Packard put its public cloud iteration into beta soon thereafter so there is no shortage of OpenStack cloud suppliers.

According to the report, Petraska said rather than competing with cloud providers, NASA wants to be a “smart consumer” of commercial cloud services. She also said NASA would stop development for the OpenStack-related Nebula infrastructure-as-a-platform project. Petraska could not be reached for comment but other sources close to OpenStack confirmed the report.

Update: A NASA spokesman responding to an earlier request for comment, confirmed the story via email on Saturday. He wrote:

In 2009 when NASA co-founded the OpenStack partnership and began working on OpenStack development, there were few (if any) commercial cloud offerings available. Now, in 2012, there are numerous commercial cloud offerings available of all types, including multiple commercial implementations based on OpenStack.

If NASA’s cloud computing requirements can be met through commercially available services, then it is not necessary for NASA to continue in a development role in cloud computing. NASA continues to have significant interest in using the OpenStack platform, and takes pride in the contributions made to the furthering of that technology area. Further OpenStack development is desirable and would increase the interest of commercial providers which ultimately benefits NASA and other seekers of cloud services.

NASA’s move is not surprising given the context. For one thing, the space agency — which is already navigating a new role as the U.S. discontinued the space shuttle effort — is really not a software development shop. When NASA and Rackspace started down this road two years ago many of the NASA software developers were actually contractors at a company called ANSO Labs, which Rackspace subsequently acquired. Many of the rest of the NASA OpenStack contingent also left the agency to pursue OpenStack-related work at Rackspace or other companies, including Nebula (not the same thing as the Nebula project Petraska mentioned ) or Piston Computing (see disclosure).

OpenStack is viewed by proponents as cloud infrastructure that will let them offer cloud services that can compete with Amazon Web Services. Other OpenStack backers include IBM, Red Hat and Cisco.

Disclosure: Piston is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of this blog, Giga Omni Media. Om Malik, founder of Giga Omni Media, is also a venture partner at True.

Feature photo courtesy of Flickr user NASA Goddard Photo and Video

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  1. Keith Townsend Friday, May 25, 2012

    This helped bring to the forefront a thought I had a while back when you guys posted on Microsoft and Google entering the IaaS competition more directly.

    I think the NASA thing is a non-issue. I’m wondering more what OpenStack and Rackspace think about the new competition for IaaS for private clouds. Presumably both VMware and now Microsoft will offer vertical stacks for private clouds with a path to hybrid clouds. With the VMware approach people worried about lock in and Microsoft even teases about it with their VM-Limited campaign. But, I believe that’s due to the cost of the hypervisor. Now that MS may have a similar approach, are organizations going to be worried about lock in as much if the Hypervisor comes along as value add with their general purpose OS?

    More of my thoughts on the topic http://bit.ly/K4J5pa

  2. akismet-1719127747f65b82d73637f9006590de Friday, May 25, 2012

    Some of us also went to cloudscaling.

  3. Boss Digital Monday, June 18, 2012

    Cloud system is ideal but I think this should be elaborated.

    Easy Web Services and Management For You

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