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Rackspace Kicks Off the OpenStack Cloud Roll-Out

It’s positioning Open Cloud as freeing users from vendor lock-in,

Despite its reported immaturity, Rackspace has gone production with the Essex version of OpenStack, making it the first large-scale public cloud deployment of the fabled open source platform.

It's positioning Open Cloud as freeing users from vendor lock-in, a taunt directed at Amazon, Google and Microsoft whose customers it expects to run off.

Other OpenStack clouds should follow quickly, say, from HP, Dell and Intel, and since they'll be look-a-likes users able to flit from one to another.

To get the roll-out started Rackspace is offering public, private and hybrid hosting solutions and says there's unlimited availability of Cloud Databases and both Linux and Windows Cloud Servers on OpenStack.

Some mojo called RackConnect will integrate public and private clouds.

What's new in the production release is the compute piece of the Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) widgetry, which derives from NASA, which contributed its Nova code to the project a couple of years ago, with a pinch of Rackspace's Ozone project. The space agency is no longer supporting the OpenStack effort having fled to Amazon.

Rackspace contributed its Swift storage piece and it's been running it for a few years. Its Open Stack portfolio includes Cloud Files object storage and the Cloud Sites Platform-as-a-Service for .NET, PHP and monitoring.

There's also a new Control Panel that will work with both Rackspace's legacy code and OpenStack. It's supposed to make complex, large-scale cloud deployments as easy as a few mouse clicks. It will also let users tag servers, databases and web sites to identify and organize infrastructure elements; search by name, tag and IP address; filter lists to find a server; use Action Cogs to display contextual menus of most-used actions to complete tasks faster ; and get dynamic feedback for real-time status information about the state of the infrastructure.

Rackspace won't force its 180,000 existing cloud customers to migrate, but the new and improved Control Panel is expected to tempt them to move, a process that could take 12-18 months. Rackspace is expected to produce a tool at some point to egg them on although it says it doesn't want to hurry them. How it prevents them from backsliding to the old cloud is unclear.

Otherwise only new customers will default to OpenStack.

Rackspace says users can launch 200 Cloud Servers in 20 minutes. API performance is supposed to be 25x faster for server create requests. And Rackspace claims its MySQL-based Cloud Databases benchmark at 200% faster (3x) performance than Amazon's MySQL-based Relational Database Service (RDS).

Linux servers with an entry-level 512MB of memory and 20 gigs of disk will start at 2.2 cents an hour or $16.06 a month. A Windows server with 1GB of memory will run eight cents an hour or $58.40 a month.

Rackspace means to add unlimited availability of Cloud Networks and Cloud Block Storage this fall. Cloud Networks has relied on Nicira, which OpenStack rival VMware bought last week for $1.25 billion.

The widgetry Rackspace mounted Wednesday was in beta test for four months. The push to develop the cloud stack is currently supported by 184 companies and a reported 3,300 programmers.

By the way, Rackspace is using Citrix' XenServer hypervisor in OpenStack, meaning it will have to cater to customers who want to use the VMware hypervisor.

Rackspace will roll out OpenStack in Europe in mid-August.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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