Ecosystem for Open Cloud Operating System Emerges

Michael Vizard
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Private Versus Public Cloud Computing

A plethora of applications are being considered for the cloud, but it may take at least another year before cloud computing goes mainstream in the enterprise.

One of the signs of the immaturity of cloud computing is the lack of any formal approach to openness or interoperability. There are some existing and nascent standards that might one day lead to an open computing environment, but it could be years before anything meaningful results from thousands of conversations among hundreds of vendors.

That's why a new Cloud Builders business unit at Rackspace is being charged with leading an effort to create what amounts to a cloud operating system around the open source OpenStack platform.

According to Jim Curry, general manager for the new Cloud Builders business unit, the end goal of the Rackspace effort is to foster the creation of a cloud computing ecosystem where application workloads can easily move across public and private cloud computing environments. To make that process as frictionless as possible, Rackspace is making a case for the deployment of as much common cloud computing infrastructure as possible. The new business unit is responsible for training and certifying people on the OpenStack platform.

Thus far, over 50 companies have voiced their support for the OpenStack effort. The degree to which these companies will support this effort remains to be seen. Microsoft, for example, might use higher level components of the OpenStack platform on top of its Azure cloud computing platform that is firmly anchored on Windows server technologies. Elsewhere, Intel is trying to promote the concept of open federated cloud computing platforms as part of its recently launched Open Data Center Alliance program.

The most compelling thing about OpenStack is that it was built from the ground up to handle the rigors of cloud computing. The second most compelling thing about it is that it's free. For a lot of IT organizations, that is just the kind of economic equation they need to jumpstart their own private cloud computing efforts, which companies such as Rackspace are hoping will eventually lead them to make use of public cloud computing services as well.

It's pretty clear right now that the best thing that could happen to cloud computing is a little more experimentation that leads to more hands-on experience inside IT organizations. Once that's in place, the sky's the limit for both private and public cloud computing.

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