So why do I believe OpenStack has the edge among private cloud infrastructure platforms? After all, there are a bunch of them. A partial list would include Abiquo, Cloud.com (recently acquired by Citrix), Eucalyptus, RedHat CloudForms, and of course VMware's vSphere, vShield 5, vCloud Director, and vCenter Operations. Even Microsoft's Hyper-V and System Center together provide a private cloud stack.
I'm not dismissing any of those private cloud solutions -- particularly Eucalyptus, whose broad customer base and Amazon-compatible APIs make it an attractive solution. I'm just saying that OpenStack, co-created by IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-service) provider Rackspace and NASA, seems to have the most momentum, with more than 80 vendors now backing it, including Canonical, Cisco, Citrix, Dell, Intel, and Microsoft. Plus, OpenStack is available under Apache 2.0, the least restrictive open source license.
Both Eucalyptus and OpenStack serve as both storage and compute platforms and give you a choice of hypervisors as the underpinning of your private cloud. And just as the Amazon-compatible APIs of Eucalyptus enable you to move workloads easily between your private cloud and Amazon's public cloud, OpenStack workloads have similar interoperability with Rackspace's public cloud.
This hybrid aspect has great appeal. Being able to burst as needed from a private cloud to a public one means you no longer need to buy infrastructure for peak demand. Obviously, Rackspace's public cloud is much, much smaller than Amazon's -- but Rackspace and its partners are going all out to encourage a panoply of public cloud providers to adopt OpenStack, as well as enterprise customers. With all those big company backers, the race is on. Plus, OpenStack can be further productized: Citrix is building its Project Olympus cloud infrastructure product (a commercial release will be available by end of year) based on OpenStack.
Interestingly, virtualization leader VMware also understands the power of the public/private model. In a recent interview with VMware CEO Paul Maritz, he noted that the company is working with telcos around the world to provide VMware-based IaaS to customers.
The private cloud enables you to manage a big chunk of your data center as if it were one big machine. The mind-blowing question is: Which operating system should you choose to run it? Here we are in 2011, still moving inexorably back to the old mainframe model.
This article, "OpenStack wants to be your data center OS," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Eric Knorr's Modernizing IT blog, and for the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld on Twitter.