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Two Years On, Who Is Using OpenStack?

The first two years of OpenStack have been a whirlwind of activity

Two years ago, Rackspace joined a global collaboration of developers and cloud computing technologists to create an open source cloud computing platform that can be used with both private and public cloud formats. Now the code for the program, OpenStack, is freely available and is being used by a number of corporations, service providers, researchers, data centers, and others.

Based on the growing numbers of companies turning to OpenStack, the original developers were obviously onto an idea that has proven popular. But why have companies turned to it?

"We chose OpenStack because we want to help enterprise IT deploy and manage applications on OpenStack clouds. Scalr builds enterprise open source Cloud Management software designed to allow IT administrators to set quotas, budget alerts, and access control to their users, and introduce automation and agility tooling," said Sebastian Stadil, CEO of Scalr, a cloud management company. "We have customers building massive hybrid clouds that want to be able to extend into OpenStack data centers."

Morphlabs has been part of the OpenStack community since its inception. In fact, Morphlabs is the first provider of SSD-powered converged infrastructure solutions for OpenStack. "The mCloud Rack Enterprise Edition pre-integrates hyperscale hardware with best-of-breed software," said Yoram Heller, VP of business development.

"The flexibility and modularity afforded by OpenStack provide great advantages," Heller explained. "OpenStack is ultimately a framework that allows a vibrant ecosystem to tailor-make solutions for their customers. It provides a solid foundation for the mCloud solutions and keeps inter-operability in the foreground - which is becoming increasingly critical for cloud computing adoption - while Morphlabs brings our experience in optimizing architecture and interface for enterprise workloads to create a complete product."

OpenStack's global appeal has reached Memset, an IT hosting company based in Surrey, UK. Memset has always been involved with open source, but when Juan J. Martinez, lead OpenStack developer, first heard about Rackspace and NASA releasing an internal project as open source he was skeptical.

"It's not the first time a company has opened a project developed behind closed doors, which doesn't always work because 'throwing code over the wall' is just a small part of opening a project," Martinez said. "I've been involved in open source projects for the last ten years and, based on my experience, a community is required in order to succeed, but building a healthy one around a big project that hasn't been open from the start is a very challenging task."

Since the release, however, Martinez has been impressed with what OpenStack has been able to accomplish and with on-going improvements to the project.

Martinez decided to try OpenStack because Memset was looking for a cloud storage product to offer to their customers and OpenStack appeared in the right moment. "We evaluated the project, liked the way it was being developed and the code base was Python and involved technologies we have lots of experience with. So we started to build a product on top of OpenStack to be early adopters of OpenStack Object Storage," he said. "Cloud storage is a tough market and we are happy being part of the ecosystem of services and providers around OpenStack. We want our customers to be happy with us because of the way we do our job, not because of some locked technology. That strategy doesn't work anymore, and we believe open standards will prevail."

Cloud management company RightScale wanted to bring its customers cloud configuration, automation and governance across multiple clouds, so when OpenStack was first announced, RightScale was eager to integrate it into its customer offerings.

"Since RightScale is a management layer that sits above cloud infrastructure and integrates into the application layer, we facilitate the provisioning and operational management of workloads on OpenStack-built clouds. To do so, we look at all the fundamentals of the underlying cloud layer that OpenStack provides and expose the values for customers to manage deployments with increased ease and automation," said Bailey Caldwell, vice president of business development.

"It's a fundamental part of our strategy to support the cloud infrastructure technologies our customers want to use as part of their cloud choices and deployments. OpenStack is transforming into a robust offering with a strong community to support it.  We continue to see increased demand from our users wanting to use RightScale to manage OpenStack," he added.

The first two years of OpenStack have been a whirlwind of activity.  As the cloud computing landscape continues to evolve, those using the technology believe that OpenStack is here to stay.  "A genuinely open endeavor improves the solutions available throughout the ecosystem," said Heller, echoing a thought others shared. "We are looking forward to making OpenStack the most widely deployed cloud framework over the next twenty years."

More Stories By Sue Poremba

Sue Poremba is a freelance writer focusing primarily on security and technology issues and she occasionally blogs for Rackspace Hosting.

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