Can OpenStack Change The Cloud Computing Game?

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Rackspace and NASA have paired to deliver an open-source cloud computing platform, dubbed OpenStack, and cloud providers and partners are pumped for the possibility of more open cloud computing and possible standardization.

The OpenStack initiative officially launched on Monday. Both Rackspace and NASA have open-sourced their cloud computing code to let users and providers anywhere build their own cloud environments. Rackspace plans to open the code to its Cloud Files and Cloud Servers offerings, while NASA is giving users a look at the code and technology that powers its Nebula Cloud Platform.

The move, both organizations said, is a push in the direction of cloud computing standards as well as a way to build community involvement and interoperability around the growing cloud market.

"As it turns out, it actually is rocket science," Mark Collier, Rackspace vice president of business and corporate development, quipped of the open source cloud computing project and its ties with NASA.

The OpenStack play is also drawing the attention of service providers and the channel, which are looking to bulk up their cloud offerings and leverage the OpenStack code for core cloud infrastructure offerings. Collier said the OpenStack initiative gives partners a new way to commercialize and build solutions and opportunities in the cloud.

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

And Rackspace's cadre of OpenStack partners said Rackspace is taking a new track in open source cloud computing and they are looking forward to building upon the open cloud vision.

"The bottom line is that we believe this to be a potentially game changing event. The reason is that Rackspace has committed itself to a true open-source project, meaning that it’s not just source thrown over the wall into the open, but also an open design process, an open development process, and an open community," Thorsten von Eicken, CTO of RightScale, a cloud management platform provider and Rackspace Cloud Tools partner, wrote in a blog post.

According to von Eicken, the industry needs an alternative to Amazon and the OpenStack play fills that void. It will enable feature-rich cloud computing leveraged by a host of service providers, like Rackspace, but can also be run internally, like by NASA.

"And the industry needs an alternative to Amazon, not because of some problem with AWS, but because in the long run cloud computing cannot fulfill its promise to revolutionizing the way computing is consumed if there aren’t a multitude of vendors with offerings targeting different use-cases, different needs, different budgets, different customer segments, etc.," von Eicken wrote.

Randy Bias, CEO of, a San Francisco-based cloud computing consultancy and strategy company, said OpenStack represents an opportunity for service providers to build out offerings to rival the likes of Amazon and VMware, and possibly Google, when it comes to storage and compute offerings.

"There's a clear path for service providers to tread now that there was not before," he said.

Alex Povli, CEO of Rackspace Cloud Tools partner and cloud management provider CloudKick, agreed.

"I can see a future where there are a set of providers who run OpenStack," he said.


Next: Is OpenStack Right For The Enterprise?

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