Internap Cloud Storage Runs on OpenStack Platform

Internap has started beta testing its public cloud storage service, Internap ZIPCloud Storage, which is the first major cloud deployment using the OpenStack open source cloud computing platform.

Internap XIPCloud Storage, which just went into a limited beta test release, is the first major application using the OpenStack open source cloud computing platform outside of Rackspace, Scott Hrastar, senior vice president of technology at Internap, told eWEEK.

The fact that OpenStack Object Storage was an underlying part of the Rackspace Cloud Files offering "for a number of years" convinced Internap that OpenStack was scalable and mature enough to power their new cloud service, said Hrastar.

Internap spent 18 months reviewing other options, such as a home brewed platform, and cloud providers such as Amazon, before selecting OpenStack, said Hrastar. The company had large storage requirements for its public cloud storage service, and was leery of any kind of vendor lock-in, said Hrastar. Several Internap developers were already active in the OpenStack community, and the company has already been supporting the open source cloud initiative to encourage innovation and support interoperability, he said.

Just as Internap was finishing up its overall cloud assessment and design, OpenStack became available, according to Hrastar.

OpenStack is a joint project led by NASA and Rackspace, and is capable of powering a "ubiquitous" and scalable cloud operating system, Jonathan Bryce, chairman of the OpenStack Project Oversight Committee and co-founder of the Rackspace Cloud, told eWEEK. The two main components currently under development are OpenStack Compute and OpenStack Object Storage. OpenStack Compute provisions and manages large groups of virtual private servers; OpenStack Object Storage creates redundant, scalable object storage that can store large amounts of data, said Bryce.

OpenStack has seen a lot of good traction and pickup by other companies in the past six months, said Bryce. OpenStack's first release, "Austin," was in October 2010. The next release, "Bexar," is expected Feb. 3.

Internap building a cloud storage service on top of OpenStack was significant because it shows the platform is "not just a hobby for Rackspace and NASA," said Bryce. "We are developing real software for companies," he said.

RackSpace is interested in "practical innovation" and is developing OpenStack to solve the vendor-lock-in problem, and to allow companies to move workloads between different OpenStack clouds regardless of who owns those clouds, said Bryce. While OpenStack has a "baseline of features that everyone wants" in a cloud environment, there are innovative features, as well, he said.

Previously, Object Storage had a 5 GB object size limit, but this limit has been removed in the latest OpenStack version; Object sizes are now limited only by the system storage capacity, said Bryce. In addition, OpenStack's Object Storage modified its upload functionality to allow for concurrent uploads, where large files are broken up into smaller chunks, uploaded to the cloud, and then reassembled in the cloud, said Bryce.

For Internap, which has a number of visual media companies and gaming companies (running MMORPGs) as customers, the concurrent uploads and unlimited object sizes are significant advantages, said Hrastar.

IPv6 is built-in to OpenStack, according to Bryce. While it is still not very widespread in the United States, it is widely implemented in Asia, where the IPv4 address space is "basically gone," he said. Several Japanese developers are working on OpenStack integrated IPv6 support because "they really needed it," he said.

Many of Internap's customers are already moving to IPv6 as well, Hrastar said.

While pricing was not announced, Hrastar said it will be "competitively priced" with offerings from other companies like Amazon and he promised a "higher performance at a given price point." Internap's XIPCloud Storage service will have a "rapid progression in functionality" over the next several months via "biweekly or monthly updates" to "deepen" the user experience, he said. During the beta customers will be able to log into the online portal to buy storage capacity and network bandwidth, scaling the services up and down as needed, he said. Internap integrated tools from third-party providers to move content in and out of storage without the need for additional development work, he said.

Internap currently offers collocation, connectivity, CDN, and managed hosting services. Many customers have been asking for cloud storage from the collocation side of the business, Hrastar said.