Monday, July 19, 2010

Rackspace And NASA doing their bit For Open Source Cloud Platform

Rackspace Hosting has officially launched OpenStack, an open-source cloud platform that it hopes will drive the uptake of cloud apps, prevent vendor lock-in and encourage cloud interoperability.

Currently the second largest provider of cloud hosting services, Rackspace has donated the source code that powers its Cloud Files and Cloud Servers public-cloud offerings to the OpenStack project. NASA is also donating code, and vendors including Citrix and Dell are supporting the project.

Speaking to eWEEK Europe UK, Fabio Torlini, head of Cloud EMEA at Rackspace, said that the announcement is a win for Rackspace and a win for the industry. “At the moment, we have just short of 100,000 cloud customers,” Torlini said. “Essentially, we have three cloud products, the first of which is Cloud Files, which is a cloud storage platform that already has 1 petabyte of data.

“Our second cloud offering is Cloud Servers, which has 60,000 virtualised servers, and the third product is Cloud Sight, which is a cloud computing platform that allows customers to upload their own code such as a blog etc.”

These offerings are hosted in the US, with the UK set to see the arrival of Cloud Files and Cloud Servers in October or November this year.

But if these products are so successful, why donate your code and launch an open source cloud offering?

“We already have two really large and popular cloud platforms,” said Torlini, “but we are now giving our code away so that people can replicate those services. We are doubling our cloud users at the moment and are doing well, but overall we think cloud offerings are not gaining as much traction as possible. So yes, going open source opens us up to more competition, but we think we can differentiate ourselves and grow the overall market.”

“Right now there are no competitors to this,” said Torlini. “The closest is Amazon with EC2, but that is a closed platform.”

And OpenStack has gained some big name partners, including the US space agency NASA, which already operates its own cloud computing service called NASA Nebula.

According to Torlini, at the OpenStack launch on Monday, the OpenStack Object Storage (i.e. Cloud Files) will be available immediately for download and replication at

“Any organisation will be able to turn physical hardware into massively scalable and extensible cloud environments using the same code currently in production serving tens of thousands of customers and large government projects,” said the company.