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NASA and Rackspace open source cloud fluffer

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Maniacal support

By the way, other goodies in the Ozone compute fabric from Rackspace are not being open sourced, such as the Rackspace internal control panel, metering and billing systems, and ticketing systems. The OpenStack Compute tool will have APIs in them to let homegrown or third party systems plug into the fabric controller to provide these functions. (Service providers already have all these anyway, and so do many IT shops).

While NASA and Rackspace are looking to roll out OpenStack Compute and OpenStack Object Storage in the fall, other companies will be looking to do it soon thereafter once the code is put through the paces. And if they decide to use it in production, then Rackspace is going to set itself up to be the Red Hat for open source clouds, offering Level 2 and 3 tech support for the OpenStack tools to anyone who wants to pay cashish for it. (NASA will almost certainly not pay for support for OpenStack from Rackspace, given that it will know as much about it as anyone else on the project. But maybe some day. . . . )

On first glance, the fact that Rackspace is supporting open source cloud tools might sounds a bit like selling bullets to your enemies so they can shoot back at you. And Curry admits there will be a bit of that.

But Curry also says that Rackspace, NASA, and other organizations (hosting companies and governments alike) that want to support or sell virtualized infrastructure need compatibility and scalability more than they need anything else right now, and if enough people back OpenStack, it can become a de facto standard, much as Amazon and its EC2 and S3 have become in clouds and VMware's ESX Server has become in commercial data centers.

Rackspace is betting than even if it helps some of its rivals in the hosting space, its "maniacal support" and broad offerings (including VMware and Hyper-V virtual infrastructure for those who want it) will give it an edge. This is the same bet that all of the participants in the Linux community who sell commercial support for Linux are betting. And just maybe, Rackspace can make a tidy sum selling OpenStack support to smaller service providers, benefiting from the niches where these companies play and reaching customers they would not normally get to. ®

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