rackspaceOne of the leading IaaS (infrastructure as a service) providers, Rackspace, today said that it is open sourcing its cloud platform. OpenStack represents the full software stack behind the company’s cloud servers as well as cloud files offerings. OpenStack will be licensed under Apache 2, and can be used by enterprises and governments as well as Rackspace’s rivals.

Rackspace said that it is envisioning OpenStack to be driving cloud system just like Linux has driven innovation on the web. “Imagine a world where code used by the biggest clouds is freely available to any developer, anywhere,” the company wrote on its blog. “A world where that code was a standard used to build private clouds as well as a variety of new service offers.  In this world, workloads could be moved around these clouds easily – you could fire your cloud provider for bad service or lack of features, but not have to rewrite the software to do it.”

The bottom line of OpenStack is that cloud computing could become much more accessible than it is today. Virtually anyone can run the software anywhere and create a cloud system. A rather prestigious project that is already based on OpenStack is NASA’s Nebula cloud computing service that is based at Ames Research Center.

According to Rackspace, OpenStack will be extended over time. One of the next components will be a scalable compute-provisioning engine based on the Nebula cloud technology and Rackspace Cloud Servers technology. In combination, organizations can turn physical hardware into scalable and extensible cloud environments using the same code that Rackspace currently uses on its own projects. Analysts have already weighed in and consider OpenStack a boost for the credibility of cloud computing.

“Hard to beat the credibility of this platform being run by a top five IaaS provider,” wrote Forrester’s James Staten. “The appeal is obvious if you are a hosting company because there are strong similarities between your business and Rackspace and thus the solution should be relatively applicable.”

We do see new cloud platforms emerge virtually every week. However, most of them are relatively new and have no track record. OpenStack has an element of maturity right from the start, even if some may suspect that Rackspace will be holding back technology to keep its advantage over competing infrastructure providers.

Fascinating times. Don’t forget to check out ELC’s cloud project page.

The Linux of The Cloud? Rackspace OpenStack.

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