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'Linux kernel for the cloud' gets new government

Rackspace rejiggers OpenStack board

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Rackspace has overhauled the governance of OpenStack – the eight-month-old open source effort to build Amazon-like "infrastructure clouds" – relinquishing some of the control it gained by acquiring one of the project's other major contributors.

After acquiring Anso Labs – the tiny outfit that built the Nova compute fabric comprising half of OpenStack – Rackspace controlled seven out of nine seats on the project's board, known as the project oversight committee. Rackspace built the other half of OpenStack, a storage platform, and it cofounded the project with NASA, which had commissioned Anso to build Nova.

Five of the project's nine board seats were appointed, and four were elected. Of the seven controlled by Rackspace following its purchase of Anso, three were elected.

But on Thursday, Rackspace announced that it has revamped the project oversight committee. The committee will now be known as the project policy board, and it will grow to 12 seats: four appointed and eight elected. According to a blog post from Rackspace, the board is "charged with setting policies that span projects as well as determining when new projects should be added," and the new name is meant to "better reflect their mission".

If you're scoring at home, this is actually the second name change for the board. Before becoming the project oversight committee, It was known as the architecture board.

The three new seats are reserved for three "technical leads" that will be elected to oversee each portion of the OverStack project: OpenStack Compute (Nova), OpenStack Object Storage (Rackspace's Swift platform), and the OpenStack image service (Glance). Beginning this month, elections will be held every six months, just before each OpenStack design summit. "These elected leaders will be instrumental in guiding those public design summits and setting the future direction of their project," Rackspace said.

A total of five seats on the board are up for election later this month.

As Rackspace previously told The Reg, the company is also setting up an advisory board, a group of "senior advisors comprised of major commercial sponsors (those who are building businesses on OpenStack), enterprises, and service providers who are deploying it, and category experts". This board's primary role will be "to provide guidance on OpenStack’s mission, and to evangelize on its behalf".

Rackspace will appoint the board's initial members prior to the next design summit in April, but after that, the board will lay out its own plans for expansion, according to Rackspace.

Rackspace and NASA unveiled OpenStack in July of last year, and the project has attracted over 40 partners, including Dell, Japanese telecom giant NTT, Microsoft (yes, Microsoft), Ubuntu outfit Canonical, and Cisco. The next version of Ubuntu, 11.04, due in April, will include APIs for building your own OpenStack clouds.

OpenStack is meant to be a truly open source platform that lets anyone build their own infrastructure clouds, online services that provide on-demand access to highly-scalable virtual computing resources. These could be "public clouds" along the lines of Amazon's AWS, a web service that anyone can use, or they could be "private clouds", services used behind the firewall. Because the project is billed as a true open source project – an alternative to something like Marten Mickos's Eucalyptus – Rackspace has a certain interest in, well, limiting its control of the board.

Rackspace calls the platform a LAMP stack of the cloud. NASA has called it a Linux kernel for the cloud.

The Nova compute fabric currently powers NASA's internal Nebula compute cloud, and a version of Swift drives Cloud Files, Rackspace's public storage service. Rackspace has not yet switched its own compute cloud to Nova. Apparently, the platform still needs some work before it's ready for commercial deployment.

The first OpenStack release, codenamed Austin, arrived last fall, and the second, Bexar, arrived this February. The project is on a strict three-month release cycle. With the next incarnation of the platform, codenamed Cactus, the OpenStack community is working to optimize the platform for use in public clouds. ®

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