RackSpace's Chief Technology Officer, John Engates, took a few moments out of his busy day to bring me up to date on one of his more interesting projects, OpenStack. OpenStack is a development and deployment platform based upon a number of different open source components. The goal is creating an open, universally available, interoperable, reliable and manageable cloud computing platform for end user organizations and providers alike.
OpenStack is composed of a number of separate and somewhat independent projects that include OpenStack Compute, OpenStack Object Storage and OpenStack Image Service.
- OpenStack Compute is a multi-tenent cloud computing environment that promises to be able to scale up to tens of thousands of compute nodes. The API is supported by a growing developer ecosystem. This project includes control panels designed to make it possible for workloads to be moved from data center to data center and even from one service provider's cloud to another.
- OpenStack Object Storage is projecct to provide redundant and scaleable object storage that is supported on industry standard systems. The goal here is not to replace in-memory, real time storage to replace or compete with other Big Data database engines. The goal is creating a long-term storage tool that provides reliability and availability through redundancy.
- OpenStack Image Service is a tool allowing discovery, registration and delivery services for virtual disk images. It supports quite a number of different virtual disk formats that include the virtual machine files supported by nearly every major virtual machine software product.
The reason John took time out of his really busy schedule was to point out that this is the 1-year anniversary of OpenStack. The project was founded by NASA and RackSpace. He wanted me to learn about the success of the program, the growing number of developers using it and how many major hardware, software and services providers who have joined.
OpenStack is not alone in trying to come up with a multi-vendor development and deployment environment for cloud computing. Without racking my brain (sorry for the really bad pun) too much, I can think of several different projects that are competing with OpenStack. VMware, Amazon, Microsoft and Eucalyptus come immediately to mind.
As they say in the world of IT, everything old is new again. I'm reminded of times that a number of different platforms were going step in and free developers from ties to a single vendor or a single hardware platform. UNIX, Windows, Web services and even Linux have stepped forward to be that "open systems platform."
As in the past, multiple competing groups have each stepped forward to claim the mantle of that single open standard that everyone could use. As before, it is likely that each camp will develop a following that swears by their chosen platform and swears at competing platforms.
In the end, we'll end up having moved up one more level of the computing stack, bringing a lack of interoperability and a single standard with us.
While I hope only the best for the OpenStack crowd, I remember too much history to believe that they are the only one that will survive.