First OpenStack cloud now open for business

Managed-hosting provider turned cloud provider Internap (s inap) now has an OpenStack-based cloud ready for public consumption, beating even OpenStack founder Rackspace (s rax) to the punch. It’s a big day for OpenStack, the open-source cloud computing platform designed to rival VMware (s vmw) and create competition for Amazon Web Services (s amzn), but it’s likely only the first of many.

Internap was able to be the first out of the gate with a publicly available OpenStack cloud, because it committed to the cause early. The company announced plans for its OpenStack offering in May and got to work building it atop the project’s Cactus release. During a panel session I moderated at the OpenStack Conference in September, Internap’s Ken Pepple described a fairly arduous process made easier thanks to support from the OpenStack community, as well as third-party experts such as cloud-consulting firm Cloudscaling.

Internap’s cloud computing portfolio now consists of the OpenStack-Compute-based Open Public Cloud, a VMware-based Custom Public Cloud targeting enterprise users, and a storage offering called XIPCloud Storage that’s built atop the OpenStack Storage framework.

It might be faster and easier to deploy a white-label cloud using software from VMware or any of the myriad private-cloud startups, but Internap and others chose to go the OpenStack route because they think being part of a large ecosystem all sharing common APIs and core technologies is worth the extra effort. OpenStack provides some core capabilities around compute, storage and networking, as well as a dashboard, but providers on their own when it comes to capabilities such as billing and other customizations that help distinguish one offering from another.

Aside from Internap, Rackspace, HP (s hpq), Dell (s dell) and DreamHost have¬†all announced plans for OpenStack-based clouds, although it’s unlikely they’re alone. HP’s (s HPq) ¬†cloud services are currently available in private beta.