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OpenStack fluffs inaugural open source cloud

Internap takes storage to the heavens

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Internap – an internet infrastructure outfit based in Atlanta, Georgia – has unveiled a public storage service based on OpenStack, becoming the first organization outside of Rackspace and NASA – OpenStack's founders – to actually deploy the open source "infrastructure cloud" platform.

Known as Internap XIPCloud Storage, the service is still in beta, but the company expects it will be available to the general public after a "very short" testing period. "This is the first service provider who's deploying OpenStack and building an offering around it," Jonathan Bryce, chairman of the OpenStack project oversight committee and co-founder of the Rackspace Cloud, tells The Reg. "It adds validation to the OpenStack codebase and what we were hoping OpenStack would be able to accomplish".

Rackspace and NASA unveiled OpenStack six months ago, and according to Bryce, the project now boasts over 40 partners, including Dell, Japanese telecom giant NTT, and Microsoft. The project is based on Nova, a compute engine and fabric controller designed by NASA, and Swift, an object storage platform originally built by Rackspace. Nova powers NASA's internal Nebula compute cloud, while Swift code drives Cloud Files, Rackspace's public storage service.

Both pieces are meant to provide on-demand access to readily scalable resources. They might drive public services along the lines of Cloud Files or private services that operate behind the firewall. The idea is to create a completely open-source, Linux-like ecosystem for such services. The OpenStack project released an initial version of its platform, dubbed Austin, this past fall, and a second version, Bexar (pronounced "bear"), is set to officially arrive on February 3.

Like Rackspace, Internap is offering a service based on Swift. It uses the Bexar incarnation of the object storage platform, which includes support for large objects. Whereas Rackspace's CloudFiles and the original version of OpenStack can't handle objects any larger than 5GB, Bexar allows for "basically unlimited object size", according to Bryce. When the service officially debuts, it will provide on-demand storage to, well, anyone, and users will play as the go.

Internap also offers managed hosting, colocation, content delivery network, and internet connectivity services, but this is its first so-called public cloud offering. "We've seen naturally demand building up for cloud storage capabilities to augment those existing lines of business," says Scott Hrastar, senior vice president of technology at Internap. "We do offer [private] storage infrastructure now for businesses, but the opportunity to offer on-demand storage capability with usage-based pricing is something users want."

Internap has not actually contributed to the OpenStack project, but it intends to do so. It's also evaluating the Nova codebase, but at this point, Hrastar says, the company has no firm plans to offer a public service that serves up processing power. ®

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