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Friday, August 3, 2012

Rackspace Launches OpenStack Amazon Cloud Rival

Rackspace brings the open fight to Amazon and the proprietary cloud model
Rackspace announced today it is going to make its OpenStack-based cloud services open to European businesses this August, as it looks to offer an alternative to popular proprietary clouds like that of Amazon Web Services.

Having announced the beta phase this April, when a host of products were made available based on OpenStack, the open source project the cloud vendor launched with NASA in 2010, Rackspace has now followed through on its promise to bring OpenStack into the second largest public cloud in the world.

In the UK, services including Cloud Databases, Cloud Servers, Cloud Networks and Cloud Files object storage with a content delivery network will be available from 15 August. The Rackspace Open Cloud services were made available today.

Previously, Rackspace offered a proprietary cloud, but it has fully embraced the open model in recent years. It is also a contributing member and beneficiary of Facebook’s Open Compute Project, which is hoping to create more open and efficient designs for vendors to use.

Open vs. Amazon

Rackspace believes this openness is what sets it apart from Amazon, the dominant force in the cloud computing market. In particular, it believes global companies who need their apps running on home soil will need to use multiple vendors running the same standards and that is where OpenStack will succeed.

“There is an awful lot of expectation on OpenStack, primarily because customers want to play with multiple clouds,” Nigel Beighton, Rackspace vice president of technology, told TechWeekEurope.
“Can people use multiple clouds [with Rackspace Open Cloud]? Yes, because the APIs are the same, if you use us or IBM, HP or Intel’s all built around OpenStack, or anyone else out there… and that’s a big deal.”

The openness does not extend to other major cloud players though, who are using proprietary gear, meaning any OpenStack users who want to hook up to Amazon won’t be able to, unless AWS opens its doors. The same goes for Google Compute Engine and Microsoft Azure.

That could hamper OpenStack’s development, given RackSpace’s commercial offering has come out long after Amazon’s. Furthermore, support for OpenStack has been ditched by some major players, most notably Citrix. Yet Beighton believes a strong OpenStack community is growing.

“What you will see is an emergence of OpenStack based clouds, which are consistent using open standards,” he added. “You now have people like Red Hat playing a lot with OpenStack, which I think is a really big deal, and you’ve got 168 companies now and 3,500 individuals [backing it].
“Scale is so much linked to the underlying hardware, that when you’ve got Dell, IBM and HP playing, there aren’t many other people who produce hardware, apart from the specialists out there. So just from the server manufacturers alone, they are all in there.”

Beighton certainly wouldn’t stand against proprietary rivals from adopting OpenStack-based code.
“If Google and Amazon decided they wanted to implement the same image library or if they wanted to use the same API for databases, it is completely up to them, I would love them to do that. The more people who interact, the better it is for the people who are building clouds,” he added.

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