Rackspace Preps for “Grizzly,” and Its New IBM “Frenemy”

Rackspace, which helped develop the popular CloudStack open-source operating system, heads to the OpenStack Summit in a few weeks’ time with a new “frenemy”: IBM.

It could also use the event to unveil the next major version of OpenStack, dubbed “Grizzly.” But will IBM’s clout overwhelm Rackspace?

In early March, IBM said that all of its cloud services and cloud architecture would be built upon an open-source environment. It also unveiled a private cloud based on OpenStack. Rackspace executives called the endorsement both a boon and a challenge.

“It’s both. It’s a competitor,” Rackspace CTO John Engates said in an interview, speaking of IBM. “Having good competitors within the ecosystem is good for the ecosystem. It floats everybody’s boat. The rising tide is good for us… it’s a vote of confidence.”

He added: “We think we do things a little differently – we address a different customer, and a different segment, so we’re okay. Even if we run across them, competition’s good.”

Engates sees Rackspace as a services company: “We’ve never built a piece of equipment and shipped it; sold a piece of software. We provide services that people subscribe to: computing, dedicated hosting, email, or something else. So we’re a service provider. A hardware vendor has a separate strategy; they need to ship hardware. I think that OpenStack for them is a way to ship hardware that serves a purpose; created with the cloud, with software on top.” In other words, pre-integrated clouds.

IBM isn’t the only company poking at the OpenStack ecosystem. Dell announced in January that its OpenStack-based public cloud would go live during the fourth quarter with a simpler SLA model—but not necessarily lower costs; Dell had moved away from VMware because of licensing and cost issues. HP has already launched a stronger challenge with its HP Cloud Compute, designed to offer an alternative to RackSpace’s Open Cloud service.

OpenStack releases are timed around the OpenStack Summit, so Grizzly should in place by then. As InternetNews.com noted, many of the pieces of the new OpenStack release are in their RC1 stage, apparently including Nova, the fabric controller.

One of the more interesting OpenStack projects may be Climate. “A capacity leasing service is something really needed by service providers, especially in the context of cloud platforms dedicated to HPC style workload,” developer Julien Danjou wrote as part of the project’s announcement. “Instead of building something really specific, the decision has been made to build a new standalone OpenStack components aiming to provide this kind of functionality to OpenStack.”

Meanwhile, OpenStack has begun drawing comparisons to Linux, a comparison that Engates reluctantly endorsed.

“I hate to say it, because someone will immediately disagree, and say that it’s not like Linux in this way – there’s always somebody that throws it back in your face,” he said. “But I think if you characterize as the leading open source alternative to a traditionally proprietary stack, then it is… it’s really the only open-cloud architecture that’s resonating out there in the market. In that regard, it’s a lot like Linux.”

The OpenStack Summit begins April 15 in Portland, Ore.


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