Other possibilities for partners include hosted private clouds and targeted verticals, where a solution provider could build a private cloud for customers in a Rackspace data center or another cloud provider's data center using OpenStack. OpenStack add-ons and plug-ins like billing engines or management tools are also a possibility as solution providers look to leverage the open source cloud play.
"It really is an ecosystem that's evolving," Engates said.
Christopher Rajiah, Rackspace's director of North American Channels, said OpenStack will give solution providers a new flexibility to leverage cloud resources, while data center VARs with clients that are evolving into the cloud can start by using OpenStack internally and use it as a stepping stone before migrating customers onto a public cloud platform. MSPs, Rajiah added, can also leverage it as a cloud service offering and write to it.
Rackspace Vice President of Corporate Development Jim Curry said OpenStack took the market by surprise and as potential users and partners warm up to it, it will make inroads in the channel.
"When OpenStack launched, it caused people to freeze up and look at it and try to understand it," he said. In the nearly three months since it launched, Curry said partners have shown interest and he expects strong traction come 2011's second quarter.
NEXT: Partners Weigh In