Monday, June 13, 2011

Cloud Computing : What is OpenStack, will it Succeed ?

Cloud Computing Articles

What is OpenStack, will it Succeed ?

Author: Kaushik

There has been a recent buzz in the Cloud Computing space with Rackspace announcing the launch of an open source cloud platform called OpenStack. We thought it would be a good idea to understand the platform and what it really means for Rackspace and the overall Cloud Computing space.

 Cloud Computing Basics : Cloud Computing : What is OpenStack, will it Succeed ?

What is Open Stack ?
OpenStack is an open source cloud platform with the source code for the project provided by Rackspace. The platform basically comprises the software that Rackspace currently uses to runs the Rackspace cloud. It allows organizations to create and offer cloud computing using the open source software on standard hardware. It primarily comprises of two pieces OpenStack Compute and OpenStack Storage. OpenStack Compute is the software for creating and managing large groups of virtual servers. OpenStack Storage is software for creating redundant, scalable object storage using commodity servers. Read More on our Technology Blog

Who is involved in the platform ?
Rackspace is a key proponent of the platform and indicates that there 25 other partners closely involved in defining the platform. They are MD, Citrix,, Cloudkick, CloudSwitch, Dell, enStratus, FathomDB, Limelight, Nicira, NTT DATA, Opscode, Peer 1, Puppet Labs, RightScale, Riptano, Scalr, Sonian, Spiceworks and Zuora

Licensing for the platform
The code is being released as an Apache 2 license which means third parties can redistribute the code, build proprietary software on it and distribute with restrictions.

Why do we need an Open Source Cloud Platform ?
Cloud Computing has been evolving very rapidly over the last few years with multiple vendors providing various cloud platforms and services. The lack of standards and variations in the various platforms increases the risk of a fragmented cloud market and vendor lock-in., Azure and Google Apps all have various levels of lock-in into the Cloud Platform. OpenStack is an attempt by Rackspace to be able to commoditize the Cloud by providing an open source alternative to the current proprietary platforms.

How does it compare to existing Open Source cloud Platforms ?
There are a number of open source platforms already in the market including Eucalyptus,, Open Nebula and Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud. Eucalyptus is the closest comparative platform to OpenStack and the key difference being Eucalpytus is a GPL license and also not 100open source.

Will it succeed ?
Well this is the big question. Will OpenStack succeeed in becoming the defacto open source Cloud Computing platform and influence and define Cloud Computing standards ? At this point this seems to be unlikely. Rackspace by making their Cloud Platform open source have signaled their intentions well and this primarly seems to be to ensure commodization of the cloud. This in turn would allow Rackspace to focus on their core competency of managed service. The evolution of the cloud over the last couple of years with large technology players like Google and Microsoft jumping into the Cloud market is a significant threat to their core business of hosting and managed services. However unless we see any of the large players like Amazon, Google or Microsoft involved as part of OpenStack initiative and any Cloud standards it is unlikely to achieve its objective of standardizing cloud platforms.

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About the Author
Kaushik Raghupathi is a senior IT Professional and Project Manager working out of India. Over the years he has worked on numerous IT projects with large sized teams. He is personally very fascinated around Learning methodologies in general and specifically around Community Based Learning. He is currently experimenting the concepts by working with students in this area.
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