OpenStack embraces ARM in latest cloud move

Updated: A new ARM-based OpenStack cloud comes online this week, courtesy of Rackspace(s rax).  Hewlett-Packard(s hpq), Calxeda and Canonical and showcased this week by Rackspace(s rax). The new “TryStack” facility gives developers who want to test out OpenStack clouds another flavor to try.

“This is a new zone, data center, powered by ARM,” said Mark Collier, VP of marketing and business development for Rackspace (s rax). Collier talked to me about the move although Rackspace maintains the effort was lead by the other vendors. The facility uses Hewlett-Packard servers packed with Calxeda low-power “cell phone” chips. This is the first implementation of an ARM-based OpenStack cloud, he noted. Canonical has done a lot of work to make sure that OpenStack runs well on these new chips.

The low-power ARM chips are becoming quite a draw as data centers seek to cut their power bills. It’s unclear if there are analogous OpenStack clouds running Intel’s(s intc) low-power Atom chips however, although Collier did not rule that out.  “From an open source perspective, it’s exciting to be flexible enough to plug in lots of technologies and build clouds for different use cases. I’m sure people are running OpenStack now on Atom, but I don’t know for sure,” he said.

The news comes at OSCON, which is shaping up to be a birthday bash for the two-year-old OpenStack project and a coming-out party for a bunch of news. MorphLabs on Tuesday announced the mCloud Helix cloud — what it calls a compact, energy-efficient OpenStack cloud running fast SSD storage — no need for pricey SANs! — and integrated ZFS. This configuration was built and tested on Dell PowerEdge C servers.

The fact that both announcements feature the brand and configurations of underlying hardware is a stark contrast to the giant public Amazon(s amzn) cloud or less public but webscale clouds run by Google(s goog) and others which abstract out what hardware is running.

In the interest of equal time, Datapipe on Tuesday announced what it claimed is the first globally available Apache CloudStack cloud platform.  Datapipe’s updated Stratosphere Elastic Cloud Computing Platform is available in Datapipe’s  New York, Northern Virginia, London, Hong Kong and Shanghai regions. CloudStack is the cloud infrastructure backed by Citrix(s ctrx) as a rival to OpenStack.

Other data center gurus speaking at OSCON include Frank Frankovsky , Facebook’s VP of hardware design and supply chain and Chris DiBona, Google’s director of open source.