Internap launches first OpenStack-based public cloud

OpenStack offers enterprises increased portability between cloud providers and an alternative to Amazon Web Services

Look out Amazon. OpenStack is shaping up to be a game changer in the cloud world. On Thursday, Atlanta-based Internap Network Services announced the launch of the first public cloud built on OpenStack.

Internap's new service is dubbed Open Public Cloud. The company had previously launched a cloud storage service based on OpenStack but now offers the whole OpenStack caboodle. Internap is perhaps best known for its VMware-based cloud, which remains as a separate offering to the new cloud.

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Open Public Cloud uses the low-cost, open source Xen Cloud Platform as its base hypervisor. It supports Windows and Linux virtual machines. "We are using OpenStack and Xen, which is a mature hypervisor running on Linux, and supporting both Windows and Linux guest operating systems," Josh Crowe, senior vice president of Internap's product engineering, told Network World. "We also like the robust management capabilities of OpenStack and are using it to handle activities like automated provisioning and usage metering, among others."

OpenStack is a potential game changer in that it offers a standardized set of APIs that the OpenStack consortium hopes will end vendor lock-in, allowing enterprises to easily move workloads between homegrown private OpenStack clouds and any public OpenStack cloud provider. OpenStack is an open source cloud platform that includes its own operating system, storage, and networking components and that has garnered widespread industry support. It is a flavor of the Nebula cloud project originally developed by NASA and is championed by Rackspace.

Today, Amazon's cloud is its most popular infrastructure as a service. Although Amazon offers APIs, its cloud is not open source technology being developed by a consortium, as is OpenStack. However, OpenStack is not the only open source, consortium-led, Nebula-based offering out there. OpenNebula is another and boasts a large community, claiming 5,000 downloads a month and some significant large-scale users. Other vendors have also launched competing efforts. Red Hat, for instance, has championed DeltaCloud and turned it over to Apache. DeltaCloud claims to avoid vendor lock-in, too, by handling multiple providers' APIs, including Amazon and Rackspace.

Still, Internap chose OpenStack over such other options for a few reasons, says Josh Crowe, SVP of product engineering at Internap. With Rackspace's involvement, OpenStack was designed by the hosting/service provider industry, so Internap found it well-suited for the kinds of big-server, multitenant workloads asked of a public cloud. But the service provider was also wowed by "its maturing functionality, hypervisor-agnostic design and its extensible nature," Crowe says.

Momentum is steamrolling in favor of OpenStack, which now claims 128 vendors contributing to the project, including such companies as Cisco, Citrix, Gluster (an open source storage firm recently acquired by Red Hat), Extreme Networks, HP, Brocade, Arista, and Vyatta. The project, still led by Rackspace, will be turned over to a newly created OpenStack foundation in 2012, project leaders announced earlier this month.

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