You may have noticed there's a fair bit of interest in this cloud computing thing. You've probably also come across various articles suggesting this is the end of free software – and the world – as we know it, since cloud-based platforms render operating systems on servers and desktops largely moot.
That may be slightly over the top, but it's certainly true that we need a good open source implementation to build an ecosystem around, and that's what made this announcement of OpenStack back in July particularly significant:
Rackspace Hosting (NYSE:RAX) today announced the launch of OpenStack, an open-source cloud platform designed to foster the emergence of technology standards and cloud interoperability. Rackspace, the leading specialist in the hosting and cloud computing industry, is donating the code that powers its Cloud Files and Cloud Servers public-cloud offerings to the OpenStack project. The project will also 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.
Since then, the main website has come along nicely. Here's a useful summary of what goes to make up OpenStack at the moment:
OpenStack is a collection of open source technology products delivering a scalable, secure, standards-based cloud computing software solution. OpenStack is currently developing two interrelated technologies: OpenStack Compute and OpenStack Object Storage. OpenStack Compute is the internal fabric of the cloud creating and managing large groups of virtual private servers and OpenStack Object Storage is software for creating redundant, scalable object storage using clusters of commodity servers to store terabytes or even petabytes of data.
The good news is that both OpenStack Computer and OpenStack Object Storage are available:
We made it — at least to the starting gate! We're pleased to announce the ‘Austin' code release of OpenStack Compute and Object Storage. This first release is a result of the hard work of the development community and the active support of more than 35 corporate partners over the last three months. While Object Storage is ready for production, this first release of Compute is intended primarily for testing and limited deployment.
We know many of you are eager to try the OpenStack release. You can download it at http://www.openstack.org/projects/compute/ and OpenStack Object Storage at http://www.openstack.org/projects/storage/. You can find living and breathing documentation on the wiki at http://wiki.openstack.org/Documentation. You can get support through the new mailing lists at http://wiki.openstack.org/MailingLists and the #openstack channel on IRC. We're ready to assist adopters and contributors both, so please join us.
The delivery of key code on schedule is one good omen for the future success of OpenStack; here's another:
Microsoft Corp. today announced that it has partnered with Cloud.com to provide integration and support of Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V to the OpenStack project, an open source cloud computing platform. The addition of Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V provides organizations and service providers running a mix of Microsoft and non-Microsoft infrastructure with greater flexibility when using OpenStack.
As part of the collaboration, Microsoft will provide architectural and technical guidance to Cloud.com. Cloud.com in turn will develop the code to support OpenStack on Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V. Once complete, the project code will be checked into the public code repository at http://openstack.org.
This move is interesting from at least two points of view. One is obviously that Microsoft sees OpenStack as a serious enough project to warrant its involvement in this way. The other is the following comment from later on in the press release quoted above:
"Microsoft's support for both the OpenStack project and Cloud.com's CloudStack underscores its commitment to providing customers with technologies that promote interoperability and openness in the cloud ecosystem."
Ah yes, interoperability and openness have always been high on Microsoft's list of priorities...