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Dell, Rackspace, and Equinix float free OpenStack test cloud

No charge for heavenly tire kicking

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Dell, Rackspace and Equinix have teamed up to offer you a few free dates with OpenStack, the nine-month-old open source "infrastructure cloud" platform. If you decide to tie the knot, you can then pay the trio to help with that too.

On Wednesday, the three companies announced what they call an OpenStack "cloud demonstration and test environment". Basically, they've installed OpensStack in three data centers – an Equinix facility in Silicon Valley, another in Ashburn, Virginia, and a Rackspace data center in Chicago – and if you ask them, they'll let you test the platform inside these facilities and even try it out with your own applications.

"A customer can participate in a demo where the features and capabilities can be demonstrated to them, and if they like what they see and they want to pursue it further, we can move them into a proof of concept where we get into customer applications on the platform," Equinix general manager of global cloud computing Vince DiMemmo tells The Reg. "Then, if they want to, we can move into dedicated environments." In other words, the companies will help you set up your own OpenStack cloud – and this bit isn't free.

Naturally, Dell is suppling the hardware for the test environment: Intel-based PowerEdge-C servers. The "C" stands for cloud. Earlier this month, the Dell Services organization introduced an installer specifically designed to roll onto OpenStack onto bare-metal hardware – part of a sweeping effort to help customers build so-called compute clouds. Meanwhile, Rackspace has entered the OpenStack service biz as well, introducing a new unit known as Rackspace Cloud Builders. And yes, Equinix supplies the data centers.

According to Mark Collier, vice president of marketing and business development for Rackspace's new Cloud Builders unit, you needn't sign a contract to use the free test environment. And he makes it clear this is not a mere online demo. "We're always directly involved. They'll reach out to us, and we'll talk them through the platform in a hands-on manner," he says.

OpenStack was founded by Rackspace and NASA in July of last year. It's meant to be a truly open-source platform that lets anyone build their own Amazon Web Services-like infrastructure clouds, online services that provide on-demand access to highly-scalable virtual computing resources, including processing power and services.

These might be "public clouds" a la Amazon's AWS, a service anyone can use, or they might be "private clouds" used behind the firewall. At the moment, OpenStack offers a compute fabric and a storage platform, and both are available from the test environment.

With the test environment, potential customers can move applications and workloads between the various data centers. "We want people to test all sorts of attributes of OpenStack," DiMemmo says, "and that including the ability to move workloads across geographic distances." Later this year, the trio plans to expand their test environment to Equinix data centers in Europe and Asia. ®

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