In Cloud Jockeying, IBM, Red Hat, Dell Join OpenStack Foundation

OpenStack, the open-source platform used by many companies to build cloud services, took a significant step forward Thursday, adding IBM, Red Hat and Dell as backers and becoming a full-fledged foundation.

Started in July 2010 as an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud computing project by Rackspace Cloud and NASA, it has grown at the rapid pace of the cloud computing model itself, with more than 150 companies participating in the project.

On Thursday, Rackspace transferred control of the project to the OpenStack Foundation, which will use a formal process to continue development of the platform with bylaws, committees, and community review. The foundation will include Platinum members who will pay $500,000 to participate, Gold members who will pay $200,000, as well as other companies that will be participating for free.

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The participation of IBM, Red Hat and Dell continues momentum for the OpenStack cloud platform, which has rivals in Amazon Web Services and the open-source Apache Software Foundation.

Action in the cloud space has been fast-paced. On Tuesday, Hewlett-Packard announced its Converged Cloud Services of public, private and hybrid cloud services, which uses OpenStack reference architecture.

Last week, enterprise software vendor Citrix shook up the cloud world by splitting with OpenStack and joining with Apache Software Foundation, which gives Citrix and its customers greater access to Amazon Web Services.

One analyst said OpenStack has taken a step that will encourage others to join.

’These moves clearly demonstrate that OpenStack is gaining industry acceptance and momentum as a viable option for businesses of all sizes, but especially midsize and large-scale enterprises,’ Jeff Kaplan, managing director of research and analysis firm, Thinkstrategies, said in an interview. "Growing vendor support for OpenStack will also accelerate the evolution of its functional capabilities."

Next: IBM, Red Hat Outline OpenStack Strategy

Despite the jousting over platforms, IBM and Red Hat representatives said they were comfortable participating with the OpenStack Foundation, particularly because of its commitment to open-source development. Both companies have been contributing in a limited way to OpenStack’s community development.

Angel Diaz, vice president of Cloud Standards for IBM, an OpenStack Foundation platinum sponsor, said in an interview that the foundation emphasis on standards development is key for his company.

’We’re at an inflection point in cloud development where it’s important to reduce barriers to entry,’ said Diaz. ’OpenStack has the most people involved and it has the greatest adoption and developer participation. It will ensure our customers have freedom of choice to move between vendor and vendor.’

The architecture of IBM’s SmartCloud Foundation, its cloud services delivery platform, will mesh well with OpenStack, he added.

Brian Stevens, CTO and VP, Worldwide Engineering at Red Hat, said joining the OpenStack Foundation allows his company to mesh its own open-source product lineup with OpenStack’s open-source architecture. Red Hat is a platinum partner.

’While Red Hat has contributed extensively as part of the OpenStack development community, we are enthusiastic to now become an official member,’ Stevens wrote in a blog. ’OpenStack will now join an open source architecture that has been redefining our customers’ IT for the past ten years.’