OpenStack Continues The Quest To Be "The Cloud Standard"

New test environment from Dell, Rackspace and Equinix is open to customers to try

OpenStack took another step on its way to becoming the standard for cloud platforms today. Dell, Rackspace (via a new unit called Cloud Builders) and Equinix, one of the leading data center providers in the world have opened up OpenStack test environments in 3 data centers across the US. At these locations customers can sign up for free trials to test OpenStack.  If they like what they see, the three partners will work with them to move the instance from the free test bed to a commercial implementation.

I had a chance to speak with Vince DiMemmo, GM, Global Cloud Computing at Equinix, Mark Collier, vice president of marketing and business development for Cloud Builders and Joseph B. George, senior strategist, cloud solutions, Dell.  All three were very fired up about this free trial. More importantly they each spoke about the commitment and enthusiasm that their respective employers had for this trial and for OpenStack in general.

Of course Dell will be supplying the hardware for this effort.  Their PowerEdge-C servers have been certified for OpenStack. But George emphasized that Dell's commitment to OpenStack goes beyond just selling boxes. They see an opportunity for Dell's services units to be players in the OpenStack cloud world as well.  

DiMemmo said that Equinix's business is to offer co-location to many other service providers and hosting providers in several key verticals. Many of these service providers are planning to move into the cloud provider market Equinix wants to supply and empower these customers.

For Cloud Builders, this is a greenfield. Rackspace spun up this unit and announced it earlier this month.  It is a services organization tasked with helping customers spin up their own clouds.  I asked Collier if there were plans to perhaps spin Cloud Builders out as a separate company.  He said not at this time.  However, you have to wonder if Cloud Builders builds clouds that work best in Rackspace facilities, will people perceive a bias, even if there is none.

In fact Rackspace has been taking some heat over its "guidance" of Open Stack with the chief architect of OpenStack leaving Rackspace earlier this month. The incident raised issues over the management and future direction of Open Stack.

The free trial is available in 3 data centers.  Two Equinix centers in Silicon Valley and Ashburn, Virginia, as well as a Rackspace data center in Chicago. Free trial customers can actually move their applications and data among the three data centers in a demonstration of Open Stack's functionality.

This effort should lead to some real commercial implementations of Open Stack. This will help in quieting critics who have said that with OpenStack approaching a year old, there has not been enough progress to say that the project is successful or ever will be.

In the meantime, vendors continue to flock to OpenStack. There are over 50 already, with more in the pipeline.

While Rackspace and Cloud Builders have made a big bet on OpenStack, both Dell and Equinix said they will offer the cloud platforms that their customers ask for. So will an open source Cloud OS like OpenStack take hold and become the de facto standard for cloud infrastructure? I think so.  That is as long as the issue of a truly open community does not thwart its progress.

In the meantime if you like, you can now give OpenStack a try with premier equipment in a first class data center.  Let us know what you think of it.

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Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.