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OpenStack Foundation launches with $10m in funding

NASA, Rackspace experts jump ship to Nebula

The OpenStack cloud controller and related projects developed under the Big Red O are finally and officially free of Rackspace Hosting, which has by and large been steering its development since July 2010, when the project was founded.

Unsatisfied with the closed nature of VMware's vCloud and the quasi-proprietary nature of the Eucalyptus alternative put forth by Eucalyptus Systems, NASA teamed up with service provider Rackspace Hosting, mashing up its "Nova" compute controller with Rackspace's "Swift" storage controller to create OpenStack.

Since that time, many other components necessary for an infrastructure cloud have been contributed by various OpenStack member companies. There are more than 180 companies that are members of the OpenStack community, who have had more than 550 developers working on improving bits and pieces of the cloud control freak.

In the first two years, there were over 200,000 downloads of the OpenStack controller from the official repositories, not counting redistribution of OpenStack code by Canonical, SUSE Linux, Piston Computing, Stackops, Rackspace, and others, which brings the total to over 300,000.

The fast-moving development and adoption of OpenStack reminds many of us of the rise of Linux among operating systems in the late 1990s. And like Linux, OpenStack is going to need a strong and long-lasting community to come up against proprietary software incumbents like Microsoft and VMware, along with open source alternatives like Eucalyptus and CloudStack, if it is to get its fair share of the cloud racket.

There were over 235 code contributors to the "Essex" release of OpenStack that came out in the spring. The next release, code-named "Folsom", is due in October, which is also when the OpenStack Design Summit is being held.

The establishment of the independent OpenStack Foundation has been in the works for a while, but the foundation's independence really needed to be formally granted ahead of the design summit, according to Jim Curry, general manager of OpenStack Cloud Builders at Rackspace and the guy who spearheaded the project until it was let go formally on Wednesday.

Now the trademarks and other intellectual property related to OpenStack are under the control of the foundation, and the founding members have kicked in $10m in cash to give the foundation the means to support the development of OpenStack and promote and market it, much as the Linux Foundation does for the Linux kernel.

In March, AT&T, Canonical, HP, IBM, Nebula, Rackspace, and SUSE Linux signed on as top-tier platinum-level sponsors of OpenStack, and Cisco Systems, Clearpath Networks, Cloudscaling, Dell, DreamHost, ITRI, Mirantis, Morphlabs, NetApp, Piston Cloud Computing, and Yahoo! signed up as less-impressive gold-level sponsors. A month later, Red Hat joined OpenStack as a platinum member after changes were made to its foundation governance process that suited its desires.

Now, after shelling out $1.26bn for virtual networker Nicira, VMware wants in on the fact that it has promised not to mess with the Quantum virtual networking interfaces that Nicira created for OpenStack. As of this month, VMware is in at the gold level. So are Intel and NEC, who joined up just in time to get their names in the press release.

There are a slew of other corporate sponsors on top of this. Everyone has put in money to keep OpenStack humming along. All told, there are over 6,000 members of the OpenStack community, and 5,600 of them are members of the foundation.

Jonathan Bryce, a Racker who ran the Mosso cloud development organization that was spun out of and then reabsorbed into Rackspace, has been named executive director of the OpenStack Foundation. Alan Clark, director of industry initiatives, emerging standards, and open source at SUSE Linux, was elected chairman of the OpenStack Foundation board, and Lew Tucker, CTO of cloud computing at Cisco, was elected vice chairman.

The board consists of one representative from each of the eight platinum members, eight of the thirteen gold members, and eight from the larger individual membership user committee. There are thirteen members of the technical committee, which leads the various OpenStack projects; they were elected last month.

This is all very grown-up. Almost like a business. But in this case, the business at hand is making IT vendors behave themselves, cooperate, and foot the bill for the developers who actually code OpenStack, which is now at over 550,000 lines of code and growing.

Perhaps the most interesting news relating to OpenStack was that many of the people who worked at NASA and Rackspace on the project in its early days waited until the OpenStack Foundation was launched to jump ship to Nebula, the company formed by former NASA CTO and OpenStack co-founder Chris Kemp in July 2011. Kemp and a team of ex-OpenStackers are building a mashup of the OpenStack cloud controller with Arista Networks switches, virtualizing servers, storage, and networking. (That last bit has been the hard part.)

Just after the OpenStack Foundation announcement hit the wires, Nebula put out a statement that Jesse Andrews, Jake Dahn, Vish Ishaya, Andy Smith, Dean Troyer, and Anthony Young, the founding engineers of the Nova and then OpenStack projects at NASA, have joined Nebula. William Eshagh, a lawyer from NASA who actually handled the open sourcing of the Nova compute controller, has also joined the Nebula crowd. So has Brian Waldon, who used to work at Rackspace and who lead the Glance project, which is a virtual machine image repository for OpenStack. Devin Carlen, CTO at Nebula and a co-founder with Kemp of the company, will continue in that role, and Andrews, who co-founded ANSO Labs (eaten by Rackspace) to do support on OpenStack in the early days, will be director of technology at Nebula.

Nebula says that it is the second largest contributor of code to the OpenStack project, presumably behind Rackspace itself. The company also employs four of the thirteen leads of the technical committee. ®

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