OpenStack cloud project remains on track

A key development milestone has been reached three months after the initial announcement

OpenStack, the open-source cloud management software project formed by hosting provider Rackspace, has met an initial development milestone, backers are expected to announce Thursday.

An updated OpenStack code release dubbed "Austin" will be available Thursday, some three months after the project was first announced. OpenStack includes the code that powers Rackspace's Cloud Files and Cloud Servers technology, as well as software developed by NASA for its Nebula cloud platform.

An initial component based on Cloud Files, OpenStack Object Storage, was released in July. The Austin update eases deployment, fixes bugs and adds new features, such as a statistics processor and better access control.

A second component called OpenStack Compute is a provisioning engine built with code from Cloud Servers and Nebula. It is now suitable for testing and prototypes with the arrival of Austin.

OpenStack, which is available under the Apache 2.0 license, is seen by some as a potential counterbalance to proprietary cloud platforms and tools such as Amazon's public EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud), as well as the burgeoning range of vendor offerings for building private clouds.

Rackspace has said it has no interest in being in the software business, preferring to win clients based on the overall quality of its hosting service. Therefore, open-sourcing its technology made sense, because the company will benefit from the community-driven development model, it says.

A NASA official expressed similar sentiments in an interview with IDG News Service earlier this year.

Rackspace and NASA aren't going it alone. The project has support from Advanced Micro Devices, Intel, Dell, Citrix and dozens of smaller companies that develop cloud management, monitoring and other tools.

It made sense for large vendors such as AMD and Intel to join the effort, since their chips power the racks of commodity hardware commonly used to build out data centers, but the absence of software platform players from the current list is telling.

SAP, for one, announced a series of initiatives for building private clouds on Tuesday, both through tools it will develop on its own as well as partnerships with the likes of IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Cisco Systems, EMC and VMware.

Vendors like SAP are more inclined to partner with other established players, but that could change if the right company decides to push OpenStack for building private clouds, said Redmonk analyst Michael Coté.

Meanwhile, OpenStack backers are already looking toward the next iteration, code-named "Bexar," which is set for release in January. That will be a topic of discussion during a "Design Summit" event in November.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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