Year-old OpenStack's cloud future looks rosy

Dell, Citrix, Rackspace, and other tech companies are paying more than lip service to the open source cloud platform

As the recent uproar over the Amazon outage cast in bold relief, Amazon Web Services has become the de facto standard for IaaS in the public cloud. While companies such as VMware, Microsoft, Red Hat, and IBM hope to use their data center presence to grab significant pieces of the IaaS pie, a growing number of technology providers are aligning around open source cloud contender OpenStack as a platform for both public cloud providers and for customers' private clouds.

That backing has by no means been trivial, either. Well-established vendors and providers such as Dell, Rackspace, and Citrix are throwing real weight behind OpenStack in the form of actual products and implementations (as opposed to intriguing propositions -- such as Cisco's vision of a network-as-a-service built on OpenStack or AT&T's consideration of building a private cloud on the platform).

That's good news. It means the year-old project isn't likely to fade away anytime soon -- unlike so many other well-intentioned open source projects -- unless the platform fails to live up to expectations as flexible cloud platform enabling the development of interoperable services that allow customers to seamlessly move workloads from one cloud service provider to another.

Dell is among the most notable companies to throw its weight behind OpenStack. The company this week unveiled its anticipated package of hardware, software, and services built around OpenStack, aimed at giving organizations the tools to deploy their own IaaS operations.

The cloud package includes the full suite of OpenStack software running on Linux Ubuntu 10.10 and installed on Dell PowerEdge C servers. Dell also rolled out its open source Crowbar software, which can automate the installation and configuration of OpenStack across multiple nodes, executing tasks such as BIOS configuration, RAID configuration, and network discovery. Dell and Rackspace Cloud Builders will provide consultation services, and Dell supplies a reference architecture, or blueprint, to help organizations design their clouds.

Rackspace's backing of OpenStack shouldn't be too surprising, given that the company developed the platform jointly with NASA. Still, Rackspace has signaled a deep commitment: The company recently revealed it plans to deploy the open source software across its entire cloud infrastructure. Specifically, the company is replacing its Cloud Servers VM-provisioning software with OpenStack starting this year.

Citrix, meanwhile, has also made a commitment to OpenStack in the form of a commercialized version of the platform dubbed Project Olympus. Project Olympus, according to Citrix, is a combination of a certified version of the open source bits of OpenStack that Citrix will bring down, test, certify, QA, package, and support, and a bundled cloud-optimized version of the company's hypervisor platform, Citrix XenServer. Due out by the end of this year, Project Olympus also promises tighter integration with Citrix's XenApp, XenDesktop, and NetScaler offerings.

Several lesser-known organizations are also investing in OpenStack:

  • Managed backup and data recovery provider SecurStore announced plans earlier this month to use OpenStack and Rackspace Cloud Builders deployment for its cloud storage services.
  • Cloud-based systems management company ScaleXtreme announced support for OpenStack as well as Project Olympus, thereby offering customers the ability to provision and manage servers on OpenStack-based virtualization systems in public, private, or hybrid-cloud deployments.
  • rPath, which automates software system construction, deployment, configuration, and maintenance across physical, virtual, and cloud environments, announced the launch of its OpenStack Compute Appliance, which allows users to automatically deploy, configure, and update to the OpenStack cloud platform on both physical and virtual infrastructures;
  • Nebula announced a turnkey OpenStack hardware appliance designed to help organizations easily deploy large private clouds, within minutes, from thousands of inexpensive computers.

This story, "Year-old OpenStack's cloud future looks rosy," 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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