Rackspace courts OpenStack newbies with Alamo release

Rackspace has packaged up OpenStack with an automated installer to take the complexity out of getting a tester on-premise version of the cloud software up and running
Written by Jack Clark, Contributor

Rackspace has released 'Alamo', a private cloud version of OpenStack designed for people without the in-depth coding skills to set up the software themselves.


Alamo bundles the Essex distribution of&mbsp;OpenStack - excluding the storage 'Files' component — with the open-source configuration management tool Chef. Launched on Wednesday, Rackspace intends Alamo to be a way of cutting deployment time for individuals keen to try out the cloud software. 

OpenStack, a software platform for running private and public clouds, has received major support from an industry keen to develop an open (and therefore cheap to use) technology to rival Amazon Web Services, Windows Azure or Google Compute Engine, with HP basing its own public cloud on the software.

However, because the software is free, companies that want to make money out of it need to offer additional services on top or use it as the basis for a resellable product, like a public cloud. Rackspace does both, and has developed Alamo to encourage more people to experiment with the software — and therefore potentially become customers with lucrative support contracts.

"If you take OpenStack raw, it takes quite a bit of work to get it installed, set up and run," Nigel Beighton, vice president of technology for Rackspace, told ZDNet, noting OpenStack is "not accessible for people who don't have in-depth Python skills".

Alamo sits alongside other easy-install OpenStack private cloud packages by other backers of the software, such as Dell, Red Hat and Ubuntu.


Chef provides a "a different flavour of automation" to other easy-install technologies like Dell's Crowbar or Rackspace Cloud Builders' Devstack, rather than something radically different, Beighton said. However, given OpenStack has been positioned as becoming the "the Linux of the cloud", the idea of multiple companies adding different install/automation tools to their private cloud packages struck me as odd.

Beighton says Rackspace opted for Chef because it had originally used it internally, so the company feels it can offer better support to customers if it bases its private cloud on technology it is familiar with. And, while he can "see the benefits" of a standard installer, "people will always want to build their own breed of installers and customisers" when packaging up OpenStack for different private tasks, such as big data analysis or simple infrastructure provisioning, he said.

At launch, Alamo includes the OpenStack Essex distributions of OpenStack Compute, Images, Authentication and Dashboard, and comes with the Ubuntu 12.04 long-term support (LTS) release and the KVM hypervisor. Rackspace plans to offer "a choice of host operating systems and OpenStack distributions in the future", the company said in a statement.

Rackspace hopes to integrate key storage component Cloud Files into Alamo in a few months, Beighton added.

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