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OpenStack Hits First Milestone

NASA favors KVM and Citrix was anxious that OpenStack support Xen so it's been kicking in the necessary manpower

Three months after publicly starting down the road to imprint its NDA on the cloud by establishing a large-scale open source cloud platform called OpenStack free for anybody to use, Rackspace Hosting, its BFF NASA and a reportedly growing OpenStack community made their first official code drop Thursday.

The milestone is called Austin - they're doing this alphabetically so presumably they have a ways to go - and it includes the all-important Amazon EC2-challenging OpenStack Compute provisioning engine that's supposed to blend the best of the Rackspace Cloud Servers widgetry that underlies its public cloud offering with NASA's own home-made Nebula cloud platform.

OpenStack Compute, which has commanded most of the work these last few months, is the engine that provisions virtual machines complements of either Xen or KVM and basically supplies the glue that holds a cloud together.

NASA favors KVM and Citrix was anxious that OpenStack support Xen so it's been kicking in the necessary manpower. The Austin release should provide a deployable proof-of-concept and test cluster of a couple of hundred physical servers and thousands of virtual machines, according to Mark Collier, Rackspace VP, OpenStack community and biz dev.

By the time of the next release, dubbed Bexar (say bear), in January more of the NASA-contributed scalability should be harnessed and the widgetry should run on a thousand physical servers. Collier figures sometime between January and the unnamed April release OpenStack ought to be production-ready.

Austin also includes Object Storage, Rackspace's contributed Cloud Files storage widgetry, its fully distributed object store.

Rackspace uses Cloud Files, the equivalent of Amazon's S3, in production so it only needed some spit and polish like making it easier to install and deploy, bug fixes and additional features like a statistics processor, enhanced access control and user-defined metadata.

Rackspace is now using the code behind OpenStack Object Storage to power its Cloud Files offering.

Efforts so far have reportedly focused on core features like the API and multiple hypervisors but in a statement the widgetry's so-called chief stacker Jim Curry, OpenStack's general manager, said, "We are much further along than we expected to be three months into this project, and the future is very promising. The community is rallying around the vision of an open source cloud alternative, which means service providers won't have to reinvent the wheel with proprietary cloud stacks, and cloud consumers will have the freedom to move their applications among clouds, whether an enterprise private cloud or simply to change service providers."

Rackspace kicked off OpenStack at an invitation summit in July attended by 150 people representing 40 companies. The project is now supposed to involve 35 or so organizations and hundreds of developers. Rackspace will be having another four-day summit starting November 9 and expects to play host to 300 or more people in San Antonio, Texas. The meeting is meant to fix the roadmap for the next two releases, including with the Bexar release in January.

Besides Citrix, NTT Data, which is working on longer-term features like live migration, Opscode and Puppet Labs, which have been working on automation and configuration, and Cloudscaling have been active in development, Collier said.

OpenStack is governed by the Apache 2 license. There will be no commercial license like that other open source cloud Eucalyptus.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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