What will drive “the cloud”? OpenStack!

– by Mike Heiman, VP of Engineering

Like most of you, I’ve been reading a lot about OpenStack lately.  For an initiative that is just over two years old, it has gained considerable momentum and industry support.  OpenStack membership has grown from founders NASA and Rackspace to include AT&T, Canonical, Cisco Systems, Cloudscaling, Dell, HP, IBM, MorphLabs, Nebula, NetApp, Red Hat, and SUSE.  It’s expected that in October, VMware, Intel and NEC will be added, making OpenStack a very powerful rival to competitive implementations touted by Amazon (Web Services) and Citrix (CloudStack).

However, most of my reading just left me wondering.  Why are all of these companies so eager to be part of the OpenStack foundation?  What will OpenStack mean to the companies that provide cloud services (both public and private) and to the companies that will use them?  In other words, why should we care about OpenStack?  Our engineering staff here at Nexus was happy to fill me in.  Here’s what they told me.

  • OpenStack is a framework for managing virtualized computing, storage, and networking resources in a multi-vendor environment – an essential capability for delivering cost-effective, high-availability, cloud-based applications and services.
  • OpenStack is not a virtualization engine like VMware or Citrix, it’s the glue that ties everything together.
  • Vendors like those listed above will package the OpenStack components.  (Compute for managing large networks of virtual machines; Storage includes object and block storage for use with servers and applications; Networking that provides pluggable, scalable API-drive network and IP management; Dashboard which gives administrators and users a graphical interface to access, provision and automated cloud-based resources; and Shared Services that include Identity and Image Services that span the Compute, Storage and Networking components.)  They’ll add their own “secret sauce” to the common stacks, making it easier and more cost-effective for them to provide cloud-based services.  (End user companies probably won’t utilize raw OpenStack components.)
  • OpenStack will allow companies who provide cloud-based services (public or private) to operate and manage very large, multi-vendor, virtualized environments – cost-effectively.  They can choose “best of breed” components from a variety of vendors, yet manage them as a single, consistent “whole”.  Something that is very hard, if not impossible to do today without the common APIs that are included in OpenStack.
  • Companies that are using or plan to use cloud-based services will be able to choose from a variety of services that can accommodate the mobile worker, are more cost-effective than traditional premise-based server implementations, and deliver the speed, flexibility, and accessibility they need to compete.

After listening to our staff, it was clear to me that all of the buzz about OpenStack was warranted.  That’s why Nexus is listed a participating company in OpenStack, and our engineers and architects are contributing code to the project itself.  We firmly believe that open standards and platforms like Linux and Apache fueled the explosion of the internet of today. In our opinion, OpenStack is becoming the open platform that the next generation of Cloud Computing will be built on, driving the industries growth and our growth with it.

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