Rackspace seeds OpenStack private clouds

The hosting specialist has put together a private cloud package based on the open-source OpenStack cloud OS, designed for businesses that want to run an internal cloud with support from Rackspace
Written by Jack Clark, Contributor

Rackspace has introduced a private cloud package based on the OpenStack cloud OS, its first attempt to make money from the open-source project it fathered.

The Rackspace Cloud: Private Edition, announced on Monday, is a is a package that businesses can use to set up an OpenStack-based private cloud. Rackspace will sell services to run and support the private cloud, while the open-source OpenStack operating system and Rackspace-designed reference architecture that underpin it are free.

The OpenStack cloud interoperability framework and OS were launched in mid-2010 by Rackspace and Nasa, and is seen as by Rackspace as a key way to make money in the future.

"We're continually trying to look at how the IT model can evolve," Stuart Simms, Rackspace's vice president of OpenStack, told ZDNet UK. "The reference architecture that we're going out of the gate with is really a statement of intent. We certainly see [it] evolving."

The Rackspace Cloud: Private Edition package is made up of three components: hardware, software and support. The reference architecture maps out the hardware and software requirements, describing everything needed for a company or Rackspace-approved deployment partner to assemble the infrastructure for supporting the OpenStack cloud. 

The initial reference architecture is broadly based around Dell PowerEdge servers and PowerVault storage. It is based on Cisco Catalyst and Nexus switches for networking, though an Arista switch is listed alongside Cisco's devices as a possible component of the public storage part of the architecture. The full software, hardware and interoperability specifications can be downloaded from a Rackspace-operated website.

"More than just basic server virtualisation, Rackspace Cloud: Private Edition offers... features that are generally available on the public cloud, such as instant provisioning through a self-service portal for employees, API access for developers and admin control panels to set quotas and manage usage, which can all be available in a qualified datacentre of the customer's choosing," Rackspace said in a statement.

The reference architecture was made available on Monday. Rackspace plans to expand it to include cheaper and more efficient — though less feature-rich — equipment in 2012.

"We would look, longer term, to have a reference architecture for OpenStack that incorporates Facebook's Open Compute Project," he said. The social-networking giant's project, launched in April, is dedicated to the open sharing of hardware designs to allow organisations to build cheaper, less power-hungry datacentres.

Rackspace's first foray

Along with the reference architecture, customers will get the latest release of OpenStack and managed services from Rackspace. The company said it will install OpenStack updates, analyse system issues and answer specific questions about the engineering of systems.

The managed services component is a first for Rackspace, as it will see the company caring for IT infrastructure that is located outside its own datacentres. The company has selected a set of 'Certified Deployment Partners' — CloudTP, MomentumSI and TeamSun — which can be contracted by customers to put together an OpenStack infrastructure. 

"This is our first foray in taking managed services outside of our own datacentre," Simms noted.

In addition, Rackspace plans to provide security services for customers, though these come with some caveats. "Rackspace will proactively contact our customers to arrange for the installation of security patches and hot fixes on customer clouds," a company spokesperson told ZDNet UK. "We will either deploy these patches and fixes remotely, or walk our customer through the process."

"Private Edition customers retain full access control to their environment, and Rackspace technical support is granted temporary access during support incidents via VPN and public key cryptography," the spokesperson added.

While the reference architecture is out now, the supporting Rackspace managed services will not become available until January.

The OpenStack scheme now includes over a hundred contributors, including Intel, Dell, AMD and Citrix.

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