OpenStack-based Storage Cloud Launches; IaaS Next

The first non-Rackspace (s RAX), OpenStack-based, cloud-storage service is in beta and nearing general availability, but it’s just the first of what should be many products based on the open-source cloud project. Internap’s XIPCloud (pronounced zipcloud) Storage platform comes just six months after OpenStack launched in July, providing a self-service, web-based offering to complement the hosting provider’s existing dedicated storage offerings. However, the OpenStack code is progressing in a hurry, and Internap won’t be alone among OpenStack adopters for long.

OpenStack’s storage component, called Object Storage, is now fully functional and ready for industry adoption beyond its use as the foundation of Rackspace’s Cloud Files offerings. According to Scott Hrastar, SVP of technology at Internap, Object Storage is advanced enough that his company was able to implement it with relatively little effort and focus most of its effort on building differentiation into the user-facing aspects of XIPCloud. In fact, Hrastar noted, his team was able to deploy Object Storage without any formal support, relying instead on a few knowledgeable in-house developers and the robust OpenStack community.

That’s good, because OpenStack doesn’t offer formal support — yet. Jonathan Bryce, chairman of the OpenStack Project Oversight Committee and Rackspace Cloud co-founder, said Rackspace has discussed ways to monetize OpenStack, and that support could be a natural fit given Rackspace’s expertise and reputation in technological support. Already, he noted, several Asian companies are providing installation support services, as the project is very popular in Japan and China.

Whether or not Rackspace launched a formal OpenStack support offering, though, the project will continue to mature. With the second release,”Bexar,” set for next month, OpenStack’s computing component will be ready for deployment in small- to mid-size data centers, and Bryce said it will have even more features than expected by this point. This is thanks, in part, to a thriving ecosystem that presently includes more than 40 technology partners and significantly more individual developers. Bryce said OpenStack is still on pace to be ready for use by service providers and webscale data center operators with its “Cactus” release in April, as I reported in November. Bryce added that OpenStack is evaluating how to integrate the Cloudkick technology that Rackspace acquired last month — a difficult proposition because much of Cloudkick’s value comes from being a hosted service — and that the work it has done to help incorporate OpenStack into Canonical’s latest Ubuntu Linux release will pay off in terms of helping the project better understand operating system integration.

The Object Storage readiness is great, but the world really has been waiting for OpenStack Compute since July. When it’s finally production-ready, we’ll see whether it can live up to its hype of not only elevating Rackspace’s cloud offerings, but also providing an open-source seed that can spawn an ecosystem of interoperable, highly advanced cloud offerings both from service providers and within enterprises. Its progress thus far is promising, but it’s a market rife with competition, from Amazon Web Services (s amzn) to VMware (s vmw).

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