Why OpenStack owes its success to Amazon

With $10 million in funding and 5,600 members, OpenStack is now the counterweight to the gargantuan Amazon Web Services

Who would have thunk it. The OpenStack Foundation now has a 24-person board, $10 million in funding, and, oh, yeah, 5,600 members. This is becoming more than momentum in the cloud computing market, and it certainly exceeds my expectations from when the standard was first launched.

OpenStack provides a platform to run a private cloud infrastructure, and it now boasts about 550,000 lines of code. Some cloud hosting providers, such as Rackspace and Hewlett-Packard, use the software to host their own services. More are working on OpenStack integration into public cloud services.

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What's interesting about OpenStack is not the fact that's it's cloud code free for the download, but that so much progress has been made in just two years. We can thank Amazon.com for that, coupled with huge and continued interest in open standards.

The meteoric rise of Amazon Web Services proved the viability of the public cloud marketplace. But domination by a single cloud provider scares the hell out of many organizations looking to use cloud services. Perhaps haunted by visions of Microsoft in the 1990s or IBM in the 1980s, many people actively sought cloud computing technology alternatives that were open and where the control of the technology was widely distributed. Enter OpenStack, an alternative that many now embrace.

OpenStack's success is not so much about what it is and does, but more about what it is not. It's not Amazon.com.

Still, Amazon.com has little to worry about, given the projected rapid expansion of the market in the next few years and the fact that its technology is both well tested and well liked. At the same time, more and more enterprises will find OpenStack, and the many distributions of OpenStack, to be a more comfortable approach to cloud computing than dealing with a single, powerful provider.

The new and now well-funded OpenStack organization should send a thank-you card to Amazon.com as the first order of business.

This article, "Why OpenStack owes its success to Amazon," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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