In July 2010, Rackspace, Dell, Citrix, and NASA launched a new open source cloud computing system expected to compete with systems such as Microsoft Azure and VMware’s vSphere. The system is designed to combine public and private cloud platforms. It was called OpenStack and it’s expected to change the world. This system has pulled in developers from all corners of the globe to help create a sophisticated, open source cloud computing infrastructure, and some have even joined the ranks of Rackspace to further develop initiatives that bring people closer to technology and technology closer to the world.
In hopes of changing the world of cloud computing systems, Rackspace donated the code behind its Cloud Servers and Cloud Files to OpenStack. It also used code from the NASA Nebula Cloud Platform to complete this project. OpenStack is scalable, easy to implement, and full of advanced features, thus allowing it to provide solutions for clouds of all types.
NASA and Rackspace both intend for their operating system to follow an open source formula, much like Android in the mobile space. OpenStack will help customers avoid vendor lock-in, thus allowing them to change cloud providers at any time. Because the OpenStack code has already been used in Rackspace’s other offerings, it has already been proven successful.
Global data centers, researchers, SMBs, VARs, service providers, and corporations can use OpenStack. Because the operating system is open source, all of its code is available freely under the Apache 2.0 license. This means that anyone can build on the platform, run it, or make changes and submit them to the project. This open model creates an ecosystem that spans all cloud providers and prevents cloud customers from becoming trapped with one cloud provider.
To complement OpenStack, Rackspace also began developing open source application testing and cloud monitoring technologies. Just like OpenStack, these programs are freely available under the Apache 2.0 license.
The first of the testing programs Rackspace has shared with the public is a framework known as Whiskey, which is a testing technology used to evaluate applications build on Node.js. Whiskey is an open source stack that Rackspace has been using internally for almost two years. Rackspace knew early that Node.js would be successful, so they began developing this testing tool in-house.
Whiskey currently runs in a single process. However, it also has a master process capable of spawning child processes and communicating with them via TCP. This mechanism allows the test to run over multiple servers.
About Open Source
As evidenced by the release of both OpenStack and Whiskey, Rackspace firmly believes in an open source model of software development. Open source programs offer a source of immediate feedback for any project. As users identify problems within a framework and report these problems to Rackspace, coders can improve the framework for future users. In some cases, users are even able to find the solutions themselves and submit them to the project.
Cloud computing has blown up in the past year, but the industry is still fractured in the absence of a standard platform. By opening up OpenStack, companies are allowing the public to be a part of developing such a necessary system. The bright glow of the future sits just over the horizon!
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