Today we have a guest article submitted by Jesse L. on OpenStack. Enjoy!
Open source solutions, while certainly nothing new, have exploded into the consciousness of IT departments around the world over the past few years. Sensing an opportunity to move cloud computing forward, Rackspace introduced an open source cloud computing solution, OpenStack. The move was a risky one, but now it appears to be paying off as the technology has attracted supporters from around the IT industry.
The origins for OpenStack date back to the summer of 2010 when Rackspace Hosting and NASA teamed up to create an open source project. The first release, code named Austin and released under an Apache License, was written in Python and designed to allow any organization to create a cloud solution for their clients. The original code included components for computing, object storage and image service, with security management and a user interface to be developed later. The software was initially well-received, and after a little more than a year it has attracted a number of major players in the cloud space, including HP, Citrix, Dell and AMD. In late 2011, Rackspace handed OpenStack over to a not-for-profit organization, which will support its continued development while attracting Rackspace’s competitors to use the solution.
The Risk of OpenStack
For a company that had cloud computing pretty well figured out, launching an open source product could have some serious drawbacks. But at the time, the future of cloud computing in general was at risk as vendor lock-in prevented many organizations from fully exploring cloud options. Once they chose a provider, companies simply wouldn’t have the option of an easy migration to another service. OpenStack aimed to become an open source solution that would do for the cloud what Android did for mobile devices, essentially becoming a base on which other companies could build and innovate. Rackspace considered the risk worth it, and if its collaboration with NASA paid off, the company would position itself as an industry guide for years to come. Almost two years later, that’s exactly what happened—and now Rackspace, and the cloud computing sector in general, are reaping the benefits.
The major benefit of OpenStack is that organizations can build on a technology that is quickly becoming an industry standard, making it easier to fully explore cloud computing options from a variety of providers. Since OpenStack is open source, it also benefits from the culture of open source software with people viewing, updating and perfecting the code. Since industry experts from around the world are involved in the project, OpenStack is poised to become stronger and more dominant as time moves on.
While not all open source software gambles pay off, OpenStack looks like a winner for Rackspace. From being little more than an interesting piece of open source news last year, the technology has grown and gathered the attention of most of the major players in the cloud computing industry. While there will always be vendor-specific cloud options available—especially from major vendors who already have tons of support and investment in their architecture—OpenStack is on its way to becoming an industry standard. A few hurdles still stand in the way, and only time will tell if the OpenStack Foundation can properly shepherd the technology into the future. But for now, Rackspace’s experiment looks like a success.