NASA backs open-source cloud platform

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NASA backs open-source cloud platform

Deal with Rackspace provides code for public cloud offerings.

A new open-source project has launched today with the aim of developing standards for deploying cloud computing environments.

Cloud services provider Rackspace Hosting is spearheading the OpenStack project by releasing some of the code for its public cloud offerings. OpenStack is backed by NASA and more than 20 other technology providers.

Fabio Torlini, head of cloud at Rackspace EMEA said the company had been in talks with NASA about sharing cloud-related software code for some years.

"We have 80,000 customers using our cloud products, so they are proven stable and mature," he said. "As such, we believe there is a big opportunity in open source and that adoption will really take off once we have fully defined standards."

Rackspace has initially donated the code that powers its Cloud Files storage service to the first of the project's two components, a distributed object store called Object Storage.

The project will also incorporate technology that powers the NASA Nebula Cloud Computing Platform. Rackspace and NASA plan to actively collaborate on joint technology development and to use the efforts of open-source software developers worldwide.

Torlini confirmed that the Rackspace Cloud Servers offering will be added later this year to form the basis of the project's second component, OpenStack Compute.

This will provide a scalable compute-provisioning engine based on the NASA Nebula cloud technology.

"To serve this demand [for ever increasing, on-demand storage and processing power] we built Nebula, an infrastructure cloud platform designed to meet the needs of our scientific and engineering community," said Chris Kemp, chief technology officer for IT at NASA.

"NASA and Rackspace are uniquely positioned to drive this initiative, based on our experience in building large-scale cloud platforms and our desire to embrace open source."

Torlini added the project's purpose is to allow any organisation to turn physical hardware into scalable and extensible cloud environments.

"There will be no lock-in. It will be an open platform," he said. "It will offer the capabilities customers and competitors have been crying out for."

Rackspace, NASA and the OpenStack partners claimed that they are are committed to open-source developers and resources in support of its wider adoption.

A recent OpenStack Design Summit gathered 100 technical advisors, developers and founding members to validate the code and ratify the project roadmap.

"As a long-time technology partner with Rackspace, Citrix will collaborate closely with the community to provide full support for the XenServer platform and our other cloud-enabling products," said Peter Levine, senior vice president and general manager of Citrix's datacentre and cloud division.

Forrest Norrod, vice president and general manager of server platforms at Dell, added: "We believe in offering customers choice in cloud computing that helps them improve efficiency. OpenStack on Dell is a great option to create open-source enterprise cloud solutions."

Tony Lock, program director at analyst firm Freeform Dynamics, welcomed the standardisation effort, but warned that it is just one of many.

"It plays on the very real end-user fear of being locked into one cloud provider," he said. "But the proof will be in its wider adoption."

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