Rackspace To Give OpenStack Cloud Trademark, Control To Newly-Formed Foundation

OpenStack open source cloud computing initiative

Rackspace is expected to reveal the pending hand-off Thursday at the OpenStack Conference in Boston. Currently, OpenStack's trademarks and copyrights are owned by OpenStack LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Rackspace.

In an internal Rackspace e-mail obtained by CRN, Jonathan Bryce, chairman of the OpenStack Project Policy Board and co-founder of Rackspace Cloud, gave a handful of Rackspace and OpenStack insiders a heads up.

"I wanted to give you a heads up that Lew Moorman [Rackspace cloud president and chief strategy officer] will announce on Thursday that Rackspace plans to set up an OpenStack Foundation and transition the assets of OpenStack, LLC (primarily the trademark and the copyrights it holds) to the foundation," Bryce wrote in the e-mail. "This is something we had been working on for a while, and it looks like things are coming together in a way that will allow us to be able to execute on it in 2012."

In an interview, Bryce said that launching an independent, not-for-profit foundation around OpenStack was the next natural evolution for the project as it continues to grow.

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"The community has grown and diversified and matured," he said, noting that the long-term plan for OpenStack was to eventually launch a vendor-neutral non-profit. "This puts it in that independent, vendor-neutral home."

Rackspace Vice President of Business and Corporate Development Mark Collier said in an interview Wednesday that the launch of the OpenStack Foundation next year shouldn't impact the day-to-day operation of the project, as OpenStack is currently led by a community of elected leaders and some of the core OpenStack projects are overseen by non-Rackspace personnel.

"We think it's going to be really positive," he said.

Collier added that launching the OpenStack Foundation is not in reaction to some criticism Rackspace has faced over its apparent control of the open source cloud project. Collier noted that OpenStack LLC's ownership of the copyrights and trademarks for OpenStack were for legal reasons and did not impact the initiative or its mission. He added people who write the code for OpenStack own the copyright and under the Apache license grant the license for that code to be used as part of OpenStack. Neither Rackspace nor OpenStack took ownership of contributed code.

"There's not some big problem we're trying to solve here, this is a natural evolution," Collier said.

OpenStack celebrated its first birthday in July and last month saw its latest code release called Diablo. Since Rackspace and NASA teamed up to launch OpenStack, the open source cloud initiative has drawn a community of roughly 110 organizations globally, spawned four software releases and has achieved more than 50,000 downloads from the central code repository.

Other recent OpenStack milestones include the addition of major technology players to the community, including Cisco, HP, Dell and Akamai; increased user adoption with major customers like Sony Computer Entertainment America, Disney and Fidelity; and the spinoff of OpenStack-based startups like Piston Cloud Computing and Nebula, both of which were founded by ex-NASA employees integral in the creation of OpenStack.

According to Bryce and Collier, Rackspace will gather feedback from others in the OpenStack community at the OpenStack Conference to determine the best structure and process to adopt as the OpenStack Foundation is launched in 2012. The conference will also feature a town hall session to discuss the foundation.

Both Bryce and Collier said they expect the move to the OpenStack Foundation to be a leap forward for the OpenStack project, and expect big growth as OpenStack continues in its second year.

"If it continues to grow at the pas that it has, it will be phenomenal," Collier said.