Building The Open Source Cloud - InformationWeek
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7/20/2010
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Jim Rapoza
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Building The Open Source Cloud

Despite the fact that most of the underlying technology of cloud computing is based on open source, much of the current wave of cloud computing platforms are closed. But a new open source initiative is hoping to fully open up cloud computing.

Despite the fact that most of the underlying technology of cloud computing is based on open source, much of the current wave of cloud computing platforms are closed. But a new open source initiative is hoping to fully open up cloud computing.OpenStack is a new open source project aiming to essentially create a fully open sourced "operating system" for cloud computing. OpenStack is based on the code that cloud computing provider Rackspace has to run their own platform plus the Nebula project that was behind NASA's own cloud.

Of course, there are many cloud efforts out there hoping to unseat current cloud platform king Amazon. But there are several elements to the new OpenStack initiative that I think make it particularly intriguing.

First off, it appears to be fully and truly open source, following the Apache license and not having some elements that are still closed. And along with NASA and Rackspace, OpenStack has an impressive list of both hardware and software vendors backing it.

There has been some confusion about OpenStack, with some seeing it as merely another effort to build a cloud platform to compete with Amazon. But that isn't it at all (and Rackspace already has a competing cloud platform).

Instead, what OpenStack could do is make it much easier for anyone to build a cloud, from smaller ISPs wanting to offer cloud computing to their customers to businesses that want to deploy private clouds on their own hardware.

And doing this on open standards offers lots of potential benefits. As any business that has grown up in the current web services world knows, if your internal applications and services are built on open standards, it becomes much easier to integrate with partners and external systems.

The same could prove true in the cloud world, where a company could create a private cloud using an open platform and then be able to easily integrate it with other open cloud systems running on the Internet.

Of course, OpenStack is still in a very early stage, with only a developer preview currently available. But if it can live up to its promise, it should not only provide an open option to cloud computing but should also serve as an overall boost to the growth of cloud computing.

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