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Rackspace, HP go all in with OpenStack

OpenStack backers call Rackspace and HP public cloud efforts a milestone, critics say code still needs maturing

By , Network World
August 01, 2012 10:35 AM ET

Network World - Rackspace and HP have each brought major portions of their cloud offerings based on the OpenStack code out of beta and into general availability today.

Backers of the open source project call the moves a milestone for OpenStack that affirms the progress it has made since it began in 2010, with Rackspace now spinning up the largest deployment of an OpenStack-powered cloud to date. "This has been a big piece of work," says Rackspace CTO John Engates. "It's our biggest product to date and it represents us implementing technology that we've been developing within the OpenStack community for some time and making it available for real customer consumption."

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New from Rackspace are Cloud Servers powered by OpenStack, a compute platform to run Linux or Windows virtual machines, and Cloud Database, a MySQL database server.

HP, meanwhile, has made its OpenStack-based Object Storage and Content Delivery Network generally available. HP will be contributing the code it used to build the CDN back to the OpenStack community for integration into the project.

Gartner analyst Lydia Leong says the news from Rackspace and HP is a landmark for the open source project. "It's the first time that anyone is running significant production workloads on OpenStack," she says. "This is kind of the big test: Does this work in production?"

Rackspace and HP are convinced it does, after running their products in large-scale test modes for the past few months. Rackspace CTO Engates says features will be added to the company's OpenStack-powered cloud services as the project's code continues to mature. For example, block storage will be added, as well as virtual networking capabilities, which will give users greater flexibility to create and deploy virtual public or private networks through APIs and a newly designed Rackspace dashboard, which was also launched today. Rackspace will be introducing those components sometime this year, Engates says.

The broader OpenStack community is working on virtual networking functionality through a project named Quantum, which has been led largely by software-defined networking (SDN) company Nicira, which VMware recently purchased for $1.26 billion.

Even though Rackspace is rolling out new OpenStack-powered offerings, the company will continue to offer customers use of its legacy cloud computing and managed hosting system, which is not sourced from OpenStack. Engates says Rackspace will not push customers into transitioning to the OpenStack offering, but he hopes the new features will entice customers to move workloads to that system. Rackspace also hopes to soon give customers tools that will make migration to the OpenStack offering easier.

While Rackspace was an original founding member of the OpenStack project, HP joined the community last year. "Based on the feedback we've gotten, we hear there is a need for transparency and portability," director of product management for HP Cloud Services Marc Padovani said about why HP chose to introduce an OpenStack-powered offering. "Customers don't want to be locked in with a proprietary vendor."

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