In today’s enterprise computing discussion, there’s a growing concern over the stability of the open, closed and hybrid cloud computing environments. Rackspace, an enterprise-level managed hosting service provider, believes they have found the solution in OpenStack. For those out of the loop, OpenStack is the global open-source infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) cloud-computing project started by Rackspace Hosting through a partnership with NASA. In very basic terms, the project is aimed at creating an environment where companies of virtually any size can create cloud-computing systems of any size with standard hardware. This means a free, fully customizable cloud environment that is scalable, versatile and agile regardless of size or infrastructural limitations.A Who’s-Who of OpenStack
To date, over 150 organizations have jumped on the OpenStack bandwagon. This includes major computer and server manufacturing companies like Dell, HP and IBM, as well as tech giants like Cisco, Red Hat, AMD and Intel. This massive user-base of enterprise-level organizations has much to do with the platform’s flexibility, and massive scalability features. Not only that, but the open-source platform is supported by a massive community of technologists, developers and cloud computing professionals from all over the globe.
Components of the Stack
OpenStack opened its virtual “doors” in 2010. Just four months later, the open-source cloud platform released its first OS version, named Austin. Since then, OpenStack has released four subsequent versions: Bexar, Cactus, Diablo and Essex. The latest version called Folsom is currently in development, and is expected to be released some time in 2012. In addition to the OS versions, the stack is based on three main components: Compute, Object Storage and Image Service.
- Compute (Nova) – This component is often referred to as the main part of the OpenStack IaaS system. Written in Python, it’s a software application designed to manage massive sets of networked virtual machines. As a result, this creates a large, scalable cloud computing platform that provides everything needed for managing public, private and/or hybrid cloud computing environments.
- Object Storage (Swift) – Object Storage, codenamed “Swift,” is software responsible for creating scalable data storage utilizing large clusters of servers. This allows for petabytes of easily accessible data storage within the cloud. This isn’t to be confused with standard cloud storage that is based on real-time file systems. More accurately, Object Storage is a long-term data storage solution for organizations needing to access massive amounts (petabytes) of data in a single instance.
- Image Service (Glance) – Image Service is more for application development and deployment in the cloud. It allows for quick and easy application deployment solutions for organizations that deploy cloud-based apps on a large scale.
Open-Source Computing: Why Bother?
For companies like Rackspace, open-source isn’t just a cool idea, it’s an ethic. For skeptical on-lookers, creating a free, open-source cloud-computing resource as powerful as OpenStack seems foolish at best. The reality is that the cloud computing industry is badly in need of standardized practices. The folks behind OpenStack development at Rackspace and NASA strongly believe that the best path to creating a standardized cloud is by keeping it open.