Today’s big open source announcement is OpenStack, an open source cloud platform that aims to be an non-proprietary alternative to Amazon’s Elastic Computer Cloud (EC2) and Simple Storage Service (S3).
On July 19, 2010, we announced that we are opening the code on our cloud infrastructure. That’s big news for us and for the hosting industry in general. The result? Cloud technology will never look back.
The full press release is here. The initial offering is a distributed object store and a virtual machine provisioning engine.
OpenStack is not itself a cloud provider. Rather, it is offering software that lets you build a cloud, either for public or private use. Therefore, it is of immediate use only to large organisations, though for smaller users it might make sense to purchase services from an OpenStack provider since you are protected against lock-in.
The OpenStack cloud is IAAS – infrastructure as a service – offering storage and virtual machine instances. Therefore it is going up against Amazon rather than, say, Salesforce.com or Google App Engine. It is also an open source alternative to Microsoft Azure, which is also available (or will be) for both public and private clouds.
Looking at Right Scale’s comment, it seems that concern about Amazon taking over this market is a key driver behind the initiative:
From the RightScale perspective we will of course continue to support a variety of public and private clouds. We already have basic support for RackSpace’s API, which OpenStack will start out with, and we have a number of implementations under way with Eucalyptus and Cloud.com which we’re looking forward to multiply. At the same time, having many fragmented cloud efforts doesn’t really help build a compelling alternative to Amazon which keep adding incredible new features at a blazing pace. And the industry needs an alternative to Amazon, not because of some problem with AWS, but because in the long run cloud computing cannot fulfill its promise to revolutionizing the way computing is consumed if there aren’t a multitude of vendors with offerings targeting different use-cases, different needs, different budgets, different customer segments, etc. OpenStack promises to build enough momentum to create an exciting cloud offering that is as feature rich as AWS, that is implemented by a number of service providers, like RackSpace, and that enterprises can also run internally, like NASA.
For more information see the OpenStack site.