"Rackspace, while certainly not the name of an Amazon in the cloud, has an excellent reputation as a host, and NASA's engineering pedigree certainly doesn't hurt," said Redmonk analyst Stephen O'Grady.
It makes sense for Rackspace to open-source its code, even if it means rival hosting providers could use it, O'Grady said.
"First, Rackspace is not in the software business, nor do they presumably want to be in the software business. And giving away software that is non-differentiating or a core focus for them is just common practice these days," he said.
"Second, one of the throttles for cloud adoption is incompatibility. Each cloud environment looks different than the last," he said. "So it can be difficult for customers to transition workloads to the Rackspace cloud. By making that software freely available, customers could run it privately, then migrate freely back and forth."
Rackspace will compete with other hosting providers "on the effectiveness of their infrastructure, as they always have," he said.
Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com.