Rackspace releases its OpenStack private cloud software for free

The company is gambling that customers will want to pay for service and support of their OpenStack clouds

Rackspace today released Rackspace Private Cloud Software, thus offering organizations a free download of the same complete version of Essex OpenStack that the company runs in its own hosted private clouds. But Rackspace's ambitions here are clear: To entice cloud-curious companies to kick OpenStack's tires at their leisure and on their own equipment, with the hopes of getting them to sign up for Rackspace's support services.

By Rackspace's reckoning, services are going to be the big differentiator among the various versions of OpenStack that companies like Red Hat are rolling out.

The Rackspace Private Cloud Software, code-named Alamo, comprises Rackspace's Chef-configured version of OpenStack, which is 100 percent open source Essex. A new version of OpenStack, dubbed Folsom, is expected in September. A new version of the installer that incorporates Folsom will be available about 60 days postrelease, according to the company.

Alamo includes Ubuntu 12.04 LTS host operating system and KVM hypervisor. Components include the Horizon Dashboard, Nova Compute, Nova Multi Scheduler, Keystone Integrated Authentication, the Glance Image Library, and various APIs.

"We are working with partners like Red Hat and others to offer our customers a choice of host operating systems and OpenStack distributions in the future," according to the company's announcement.

It all comes wrapped up in an installer, which Rackspace is particularly bullish about because it enables companies to deploy a private cloud on bare metal in a matter of minutes, the company claims.

"OpenStack has been rightly criticized as being hard to get installed and running unless you're an OpenStack expert," said Jim Curry, general manager of Rackspace Private Cloud business and OpenStack co-founder. "This solves those problems. Someone with limited knowledge, or who is not a developer, can go from bare metal to functional cloud in less than 30 minutes."

Although Rackspace won't profit from licensing its Private Cloud Software, company leaders expect they'll rake in revenue through support and services. With the release, the company is offering its Escalation Support services, which include 24/7 ticket and phone support. The company will continue to add more services, such as cloud monitoring, later this year.

"The differentiator among OpenStack providers will be around support and services," said Mike Aeschliman, head of engineering and product for Rackspace Private Cloud.

Rackspace is using the release as an opportunity to talk up the advantages of using its fully open source version of OpenStack versus using a rival's proprietary version.

"The selling point [of our approach], particularly with enterprises, is that they want the flexibility to be able to choose between providers but without vendor lock-in. Not that they don't see the value in proprietary," said Aeschliman. "We're sticking to the open source community version and open-sourcing what we're doing. We're trying to appeal to the mass market."

Rackspace Private Cloud Software can be downloaded at Rackspace's website.

This story, "Rackspace releases its OpenStack private cloud software for free," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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