Making its cloud service APIs open source code intensifies competition with Amazon.

Charles Babcock, Editor at Large, Cloud

August 11, 2009

2 Min Read

In a bid to expand its appeal to cloud computing customers, Rackspace has opened up an additional cloud interface, drawing a contrast between Amazon's EC2 and itself.

Rackspace announced recently that its Cloud Files API, which links customers' workloads to file handling services on Rackspace servers, has become open under the Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution license. It previously released its Cloud Servers API, which links customers to VMs on Rackspace servers, under the same license. The company is off to a fast start in cloud computing and is trying to differentiate itself, said Emil Sayegh, general manager of the Rackspace Cloud, in the announcement. It competes with Amazon, which offers EC2 servers, Elastic Block Storage, and S3 permanent storage through a set of closed Amazon APIs.

Making its APIs public is both a gesture and a concrete act that makes Rackspace's core functionality available to developers who want to place workloads in the cloud or develop products that add value to cloud computing. The APIs also become available to anyone who wants to mimic Rackspace's business.

Rackspace also made available the specifications its Cloud Files language bindings for Java, PHP, Python, C# and Ruby under the MIT open source license. The source code for the bindings is available on GitHub, a public versioning site.

Technical guidelines for the Cloud Servers bindings is also available at the site to help developers build bindings in a similar way for a variety of languages. A reference implementation for Python will follow, Sayegh said.

The open source Rackspace APIs "will build confidence among developers to know they can 'see' how the APIs function at a programmatic level," predicted Rich Wolski, CTO of Eucalyptus Systems, a supplier of open source APIs that mimic Amazon's APIs for EC2 services. With its move, Rackspace was "assuming a leadership position in achieving cloud interoperability," Wolski added in the announcement.

"We are working quickly to offer a wide range of tools to help developers work with us to create these important building blocks," said Sayegh.

The open APIs apply to the public cloud portion of Rackspace's business. In an unrelated move, Rackspace offered customers what it calls its "private" cloud option, or Rackspace facilities reserved for their purposes and implemented with their security. The move could be viewed as an offer of "single-tenant" facilities, accessible at any time by the customer through a private portal, from what is normally a multi-tenant provider.


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About the Author(s)

Charles Babcock

Editor at Large, Cloud

Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek and author of Management Strategies for the Cloud Revolution, a McGraw-Hill book. He is the former editor-in-chief of Digital News, former software editor of Computerworld and former technology editor of Interactive Week. He is a graduate of Syracuse University where he obtained a bachelor's degree in journalism. He joined the publication in 2003.

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