Today RackSpace announced that it is open-sourcing it’s cloud platform, i.e. the code that powers CloudServers and CloudFiles, at openstack.org. We’ve been working with RackSpace for quite a while and have also participated in this new initiative at a workshop held by RackSpace last week. The bottom line is that we believe this to be a potentially game changing event. The reason is that RackSpace has committed itself to a true open source project, meaning that it’s not just source thrown over the wall into the open, but also an open design process, an open development process, and an open community. Of course RackSpace and NASA, whose Nebula team is co-leading the effort, will need to show that they can live up to those promises, but last week’s workshop definitely showed that their hearts are in it. Despite the fact that there were over 40 technical folks discussing architectural details, Rick Clark managed the requirements gathering very openly using a “scaled-up” version of the Ubuntu design conference process he is very familiar with, having been the lead of the Ubuntu Server project. The process felt very inviting yet still focused on firming up a first release later this year, which doesn’t leave much room for crazy new stuff. I expect we’ll see a good number of companies contributing code to this project.
From the RightScale perspective we will of course continue to support a variety of public and private clouds. We already have basic support for RackSpace’s API, which OpenStack will start out with, and we have a number of implementations under way with Eucalyptus and Cloud.com which we’re looking forward to multiply. At the same time, having many fragmented cloud efforts doesn’t really help build a compelling alternative to Amazon which keep adding incredible new features at a blazing pace. And the industry needs an alternative to Amazon, not because of some problem with AWS, but because in the long run cloud computing cannot fulfill its promise to revolutionizing the way computing is consumed if there aren’t a multitude of vendors with offerings targeting different use-cases, different needs, different budgets, different customer segments, etc. OpenStack promises to build enough momentum to create an exciting cloud offering that is as feature rich as AWS, that is implemented by a number of service providers, like RackSpace, and that enterprises can also run internally, like NASA. Of course, at this point it’s just the beginning, we’ll have to see how the first complete release shapes up at the end of the year.