Rackspace, NASA Open Up Cloud Computing With OpenStack Project


Rackspace on Monday launched an open source cloud computing project the company hopes will make proprietary cloud computing a thing of the past.

The San Antonio-based hosting and cloud king teamed up with NASA to launch a bold open-source cloud computing initiative dubbed OpenStack. Through OpenStack, an open source cloud operating system, Rackspace hopes to inch closer to cloud technology standards and cloud interoperability, said Mark Collier, Rackspace vice president of business and corporate development. With OpenStack, Rackspace hopes to facilitate "broad adoption of a standard cloud platform."

With OpenStack, Rackspace is donating the cloud computing code that powers its Cloud Files and Cloud Servers public cloud offerings. The project will also tie in the technology that powers NASA's Nebula Cloud Platform. The pair will collaborate on developing and leveraging the efforts of open-source software developers.

Chris Kemp, CTO of IT for NASA, said the Nebula service was built to offer high performance compute, network and storage services to NASA scientists and researches and enables NASA to share and process large scientific data sets. Releasing the Nebula code with the OpenStack play, Kemp said, creates potential for a large community of developers to contribute to the Nebula code.

"There's an opportunity for this reference platform to accelerate the federal government's and NASA's adoption of the cloud," he said. "I see tremendous opportunities to provide increased computing power at decreased costs."

OpenStack will include two cloud computing infrastructure components, the first being OpenStack Object Storage, a fully distributed object store based on Rackspace Cloud Files. The second component, OpenStack Compute, will be a scalable compute provisioning engine based on the NASA Nebula cloud technology and Rackspace Cloud Servers technology, will be available later this year, Collier said.

Collier said any organization using OpenStack will be able to turn physical hardware into massively scalable and extensible cloud environments using the same code that is currently serving tens of thousands of users and large government projects.

Along with making strides toward cloud computing standards, the OpenStack initiative also seeks to help cloud users prevent vendor lock-in and boost cloud adoption.

Collier said OpenStack will let users move workloads between their data centers, Rackspace's data centers and other providers' data centers and all will have the same access to the technology.

"There's no pride of ownership," he said. "It's not about our code or their code. It's about the best code."

So far, Collier said, a host of companies signed on to participate in the OpenStack community, including Citrix, Dell, Intel, RightScale and more than 20 other companies.

For the channel, the OpenStack initiative gives them a new cloud computing offering to commercialize and design solutions and consulting opportunities, Collier said.

"Now they have another way to design solutions," he said.

Collier said the OpenStack initiative stems from millions of dollars of past investments in intellectual property and building its cloud offerings and now the company is continuing to invest in a dedicated OpenStack project team and community managers.

"We are the only large-scale public cloud that's leading this type of project and opening up the cloud," Collier said, adding that others cloud providers like Eucalyptus Systems and Cloud.com also have open source cloud projects underway.

Overall, Collier said, Rackspace hopes the OpenStack initiative hastens the emergence of industry standards around clouds. Collier said standards typically follow the adoption trajectory.

"As this OS platform is adopted widely … it has the ability to create a form of standards," he said.