It’s official: IBM and Red Hat get with OpenStack

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OpenStack filled in some key checkmarks this week as it added IBM and Red Hat to its roster of corporate backers.  As GigaOM reported last week, the two tech giants will join the nascent OpenStack Foundation as Platinum members along with AT&T, Canonical, Hewlett-Packard, Nebula, Rackspace, and Suse.

The gelling of the foundation is important as OpenStack evolves from an effort driven by Rackspace and NASA, to a broad-based coalition. Its goal is to provide an open-source cloud platform alternative to Amazon Web Services.

A number of companies including  Cisco, Cloudscaling, Dell, Dreamhost, Morphlabs, Netapp and Piston Cloud Computing (see disclosure) are joining as Gold members — bringing the total of foundation members to 18, for now. That number will likely grow as the foundation evolves,  said Mark Collier, VP of business development for Rackspace.

Citrix, which was an OpenStack backer but then pushed its CloudStack as a rival platform, was not mentioned in the foundation news. Citrix employees are still working with OpenStack particularly around Xen hypervisor support, said Jonathan Bryce, Rackspace Cloud founder and OpenStack board member.

Platinum members pay $500,000 per year to participate with a minimum three-year committment.  Gold Members pay an amount pegged at .025 percent of their revenue but at least $50,000 and capped at $200,000, according to the foundation wiki. 

Collier insisted that the big spenders will not be able to big foot the foundation, however. “Inclusion is not based on how much money you give but on the technical merit of your proposals,” he said.

OpenStack partisans seek broad-based foundation

When Rackspace announced plans for the foundation last fall,  OpenStack adherents were enthusiastic but vigilant. The important thing to them was that the foundation not be driven by any single company or cadre of big companies. Many cited the Apache and Eclipse Foundations as models for OpenStack to emulate. One reason IBM is such an important addition is because of its work in making the Eclipse Foundation a success — largely by ceding control over the open-source Java IDE to an outside body.

OpenStack took that to heart, according Bryce, and will borrow from both Apache and Eclipse models. “When you take the core principles of Apache — how developers are respected and empowered along with some Eclipse concepts around investing in the [broader] ecosystem, we think we’ll drive things forward,” Bryce said.

Expect more talk about the foundation, its governance, and its roadmap to come at next week’s OpenStack Spring Conference.

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.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user christopher.woo

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