Rackspace Open-Sources Cloud Platform, Joins NASA in Launch of OpenStack Project

Rackspace Hosting has announced the launch of OpenStack, an open-source cloud platform designed to foster the emergence of technology standards and cloud interoperability.

Rackspace Hosting has announced the launch of OpenStack, an open-source cloud platform designed to foster the emergence of technology standards and cloud interoperability, the company said.

In a July 19 press release, Rackspace, which claims to be the second largest provider of cloud hosting services, said it is donating the code that powers its Cloud Files and Cloud Servers public-cloud offerings to the OpenStack project.

Moreover, in an interview with eWEEK, Jonathan Bryce, co-founder of the Rackspace cloud, said the OpenStack project also will incorporate technology that powers the NASA Nebula Cloud Platform. Rackspace and NASA plan to actively collaborate on joint technology development and leverage the efforts of open-source software developers worldwide, he said.

"Modern scientific computation requires ever-increasing storage and processing power delivered on-demand," said Chris Kemp, NASA's Chief Technology Officer for IT, in a statement. "To serve this demand, we built Nebula, an infrastructure cloud platform designed to meet the needs of our scientific and engineering community. NASA and Rackspace are uniquely positioned to drive this initiative based on our experience in building large scale cloud platforms and our desire to embrace open source."

NASA Nebula is a cloud computing service based at NASA Ames Research Center that provides high performance compute, network and data storage services to NASA scientists and researchers. Nebula allows NASA to share and process large scientific data sets and was one of three flagship projects highlighted in NASA's Open Government Plan. For more information, go to http://nebula.nasa.gov.

OpenStack will feature several cloud infrastructure components including a fully distributed object store based on Rackspace Cloud Files, available at OpenStack.org. The second component will be a scalable compute-provisioning engine based on the NASA Nebula cloud technology and Rackspace Cloud Servers technology. It is expected to be available later this year, Bryce said.

"We've formed a group to open up the source code that runs our cloud platform," Bryce said.

With the OpenStack software, any organization will be able to turn physical hardware into massively scalable and extensible cloud environments using the same code currently in production serving tens of thousands of customers and large government projects, Rackspace officials said.

"We are founding the OpenStack initiative to help drive industry standards, prevent vendor lock-in and generally increase the velocity of innovation in cloud technologies," said Lew Moorman, president of the cloud business and chief strategy officer at Rackspace, in a statement. "We are proud to have NASA's support in this effort. Its Nebula Cloud Platform is a tremendous boost to the OpenStack community. We expect ongoing collaboration with NASA and the rest of the community to drive more-rapid cloud adoption and innovation, in the private and public spheres."

Rackspace and NASA have committed to use OpenStack to power their cloud platforms, and Rackspace will dedicate open-source developers and resources to support adoption of OpenStack among enterprises and service providers.

"When we looked at this we looked at several open-source projects and groups, but nothing else scaled to the degree we needed," Bryce said. "Then we saw the NASA code and we really liked it. And it was written in Python, which we like to use."

Meanwhile, Brett Piatt, technical alliance manager at Rackspace, said an OpenStack Design Summit hosted by Rackspace was held July 13-16 in Austin, Texas, where more than 100 technical advisers, developers and founding members joined to validate the code and ratify the project roadmap. More than 25 companies were represented at the Design Summit including AMD, Autonomic Resources, Citrix, Cloud.com, Cloudkick, CloudSwitch, Dell, enStratus, FathomDB, Intel, iomart Group, Limelight, Nicira, NTT DATA, Opscode, Peer 1, Puppet Labs, RightScale, Riptano, Scalr, Sonian, Spiceworks, ThoughtWorks, Zenoss and Zuora.

"We believe in offering customers choice in cloud computing that helps them improve efficiency," says Forrest Norrod, vice president and general manager of Server Platforms at Dell, in a statement. "OpenStack on Dell is a great option to create open source enterprise cloud solutions."

"OpenStack provides a solid foundation for promoting the emergence of cloud standards and interoperability," said Peter Levine, senior vice president and general manager of the Datacenter and Cloud Division at Citrix Systems, also in a statement. "As a longtime technology partner with Rackspace, Citrix will collaborate closely with the community to provide full support for the XenServer platform and our other cloud-enabling products."

To download or contribute code and get involved, visit OpenStack.org.