Openstack. Open source cloud computing from NASA and Rackspace

Cloud computing has tremendous advantages over traditional methods of website hosting, data storage, and back end database applications. It scales instantly to meet demand, you often are billed only for resources actually used, and data is stored redundantly by default, lessening the chance of loss.

Rackspace and NASA teamed together six months ago to create Openstack, which is open standards, open source cloud software. They now have dozens of high profile companies and organizations participating. Openstack has two segments; Compute which essentially is the operating system, and Storage which handles long-term storage of more static data.

If there are other open source cloud projects, why start a new one?

We’ve been eagerly watching these projects emerge, but unfortunately weve found most of them incapable of dealing with the tremendous scale we require. (Rackspace serves over 100,000 customers and is the second largest public cloud provider.)

The one exception we found was the code that powers NASAs Nebula cloud. Rackspace and NASA share similar problems, including the need to manage huge datasets and thousands of instances of compute. With similar philosophies about cloud architecture and open source software, it was an easy decision to combine our projects into one new effort, now called OpenStack.

Rackspace thinks Openstack could be the next Linux. They may well be right. This is a genuinely exciting and welcome project. Open source like Apache, MySQL, and PHP already runs most of the net. With Openstack, open source will now run the cloud. Good.

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