Who could have foreseen that Ronald Reagan would understand so well the response I’ve been hearing from service providers and enterprises alike when faced with the prospect of implementing the recently introduced work in progress named vCloud? Suffice it to say that across the board, service providers and enterprises alike have told us that they are not enthusiastic about a monolithic, single vendor cloud stack that by definition makes all clouds identical – thereby commoditizing them, and at a high price. They are seeking an open architecture, with support for multiple hypervisors, that enables them to differentiate their offerings with value-added services. (With perfect timing, an email I received today from SearchVMware.com says: “if the vendor has strong support and reliable products, lock-in might not be so terrible.”)

We have recently been working with a partner to develop an architecture for a scalable national cloud (aiming to manage more than 100K servers) that prices in at one tenth of the cost of a VMware solution. How can our partners deliver such competitive pricing? Well, it starts with a commitment to open-ness, which implicitly requires multi-hypervisor support and absolute compatibility. From a Citrix perspective, our OpenCloud architecture is based on XenServer, our free enterprise class virtual infrastructure platform that supports a wide variety of scalable storage infrastructure choices, and (in its current beta release) a powerful open virtual switch with APIs that permit the dynamic provisioning and management of scalable multi-tenant private clouds. But perhaps the most important component of the architecture is a free, open source, scalable cloud orchestration system: OpenStack. Citrix will deliver and support OpenStack as a component of the OpenCloud framework.

Today the OpenStack team announced its first developer release, “Austin”, delivering on its first commitment to the community. The release vindicates the Rackspace and NASA decisions to open source their software (the Rackspace Cloud Files implementation is now the OpenStack Object Storage and NASA Nebula orchestration layer is now OpenStack Compute). The project is widely supported, has an open process, and has developed key structures to guide it forwards, including a Technical and Business Advisory Board. The OpenStack contributor base numbers about 150 engineers from more than 30 organizations, and the project is exhibiting the key benefits that the industry derives from successful open source collaboration:

  • rapid development,
  • faster testing, feedback and project turn around,
  • broader industry adoption and learning through implementation
  • de-facto standardization whilst avoiding the prospect of commoditization.

It has been rewarding to work with the OpenStack crew, and to have experienced first hand the dedication to an open, code-rules, community-first approach taken by the project leaders. OpenStack has shown that it is possible to rally the community around the development of “management” software – as opposed to the Linux kernel or Xen – and it is definitely the case that OpenStack is breaking new ground for the industry at large. With the release behind us, our team will head in force to San Antonio for the next Design Summit.