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Cloud Computing: Open Source Standards for the Cloud

By Dick Weisinger

It has been one year since NASA and Rackspace Hosting teamed up to launch an Open Source Apache-licensed project called OpenStack. The project aims to provide cloud standards that will ultimately provide cloud customers a non-proprietary path for  their cloud solutions that will allow them to avoid vendor lock-in.  One of the hopes for the project is for an ‘ecosystem’ of cloud vendors complying with the OpenStack framework to evolve and offer a compelling alternative to proprietary solutions. like Amazon Web Services and VMware vCloud.

Jim Curry, project lead for the OpenStack project, described the project to the on-line magazine JAXenter as “a truly open source alternative in cloud infrastructure — think Apache for web servers or Linux for operating systems. We want to make it possible for anyone, anywhere to stand up a cloud — inside the enterprise, at a service provider, or integrated in with another commercial offering from the likes of Citrix – – and to be able to scale to a very large size.”  In a similar analogy to the openness of the OpenStack platform, Lew Moorman, President of Rackspace, told GigaOm that “What Android is to smartphone operating systems, we want OpenStack to be for the cloud,”

Over the last few months, the OpenStack project seems to be making headway.  When the project was first made available last year, the project had 25 contributing member companies.  That’s grown now to more than 80 participating companies and 217 developers.  OpenStack continues to line up support from vednros like Cisco, Dell, Brocade, Japan’s NTT and Canonical.  Even Microsoft is a member.  A number of startups are also building companies around the standard; these include Piston Cloud Computing, Nephoscale and Sonian.

In March, Dell, Rackspace and Equinox announced an OpenStack cloud demonstration system.  In July, Citrix acquired Cloud.com, a founding member of OpenStack and provider of systems management software.

But OpenStack is not without its problems and concerns too.  For example, a founding member and chief architect of OpenStack, Rick Clark, left the project because of concerns that he had over lack of openness and focus on marketing over the technology.  There have also been some questions too around Rackspace’s commitment to an Open Source project.

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