The Cloud’s Future Is Open For Business

Right now, we are witnessing one of the most dramatic technology shifts our industry has ever seen. The entire way that we think about and consume computing has been altered.

The dawn of the cloud has created a tectonic shift. The center of computing has been pushed from the device – or, in many cases, our desks – to the data center; into the cloud. It’s in the cloud where the majority of computing takes place today and where we believe nearly all computing will take place in the future. Devices — smartphones, tablets or other web-enabled endpoints — are where the outcomes of that new compute power is consumed.

The cloud’s meteoric rise has made the data center more agile and programmatic. It has created a paradigm of instant computing at dramatically lower costs.

That ripple effect has impacted the entire economy: the cost to start a business has plummeted, creating a wave of ground-breaking and inspired startups that build new products, new services and, despite the financial crunch, new jobs; and the rate of experimentation and innovation has skyrocketed, leading to products and services of which we could only dream just five years ago, much to the delight of consumers. We now have the ability to move at incredible speed. We’re more nimble than ever before. And, we are just getting started.

This revolution is powered by cloud software; the cloud operating system, if you will.  And like previous generations of computing, the dominant operating systems will be critical to the unfolding of this great technology shift. The emergence of the dominant cloud operating systems has just begun, and we, along with more than 150 other companies, are just getting started in our quest to build the open cloud operating system — OpenStack.

While the cloud industry is still blossoming, it got off to a great start with proprietary players. VMware dominates in the private cloud space, while Amazon Web Services, and yes, Rackspace, lead in the proprietary public cloud.

With the announcement of our Cloud Servers powered by Openstack, we’ve gone all in on a new approach, an open model and its promise of true portability. We’ve also set the stage for a complete portfolio of cloud products – compute, storage, networking and more. Underpinning that portfolio is OpenStack Compute, or Nova. Now, OpenStack is the platform upon which our complete cloud portfolio rests.

Leveraging OpenStack to power the Rackspace Cloud comes as the world and the market lack, and crave, a clear open alternative to the proprietary cloud model. The market is ready to be seized by a community-focused cloud contender based on open standards. Historically, open standards and open choices have shaken up the technology world. In fact, the rise of an open alternative is inevitable in modern computing ecosystems.  Look at the rise of Linux out of the shadow of Windows. Think about how Android came seemingly out of nowhere to rival the incumbent iPhone. Those are just two examples of game changing open operating systems that changed the course of computing.

In the 20 months since Rackspace jumped into the open cloud fray with OpenStack, the project has grown and matured by leaps and bounds. With its recent fifth release, called Essex, OpenStack is ready for primetime with ambitions for much more. The community has shaped it into an incredibly powerful, reliable and stable platform upon which large, high performance clouds can be deployed – we’re so confident in OpenStack that we’ve rebuilt our Rackspace Cloud to run on top of it and are using it as the fuel to run most of our cloud products.

How are we so sure that OpenStack is ready? The community and the marketplace are screaming it.

Started by Rackspace and NASA, the OpenStack community has swelled to more than 150 companies representing some of the greatest and most influential players in technology, such as HP, IBM, Dell and Red Hat. The Essex release alone had code contributions from more than 50 companies and more than 200 developers. Live OpenStack clouds are available today from Rackspace, HP and Intermedia. And in just a year and a half– a short time for an open source project – OpenStack has experienced more than 100,000 downloads and is now live in more than 50 deployments. And this is just the beginning.

Compare OpenStack’s trajectory to the Linux Foundation, which recently revealed that the Linux kernel version 2.6.11 had 368 developers from 68 companies when it was released in 2005 – roughly 14 years after its original launch. OpenStack’s staggering momentum can’t be ignored.

We firmly believe that OpenStack will change everything. It will transform the cloud market and create a powerful ecosystem that is a real alternative, or in other cases a complement, to the proprietary leaders. It will help drive the shift in how computing is used. And it will spark innovation and offer choice while also creating an ecosystem of business opportunities for us and many others. All of this will happen in a talented, community-driven environment. Cloud software is the operating system of modern computing and the open alternative is staking its position as a driving force in this world.

We’re excited to be a part of this monumental shift and we’re thrilled to have been involved since the beginning. And as we hand OpenStack over to the OpenStack Foundation, we’re certain that the community will continue to strengthen.

We have bet our business on OpenStack and on an open model. We have a major stake in its execution and in its success, and many others do as well. OpenStack powers the cloud that we use and the products and services that we sell. With the Rackspace Cloud, OpenStack is the foundation and it’s backed by the best support in the world – Fanatical Support. The combination of the open cloud and our more than 10-year history as a service and support leader makes the Rackspace Cloud a true game changer.

This truly is the epoch of the next generation of the cloud, and the open generation will be an awesome ride.

Lew Moorman is a senior consultant to the top executives of Rackspace, focusing on strategy and product issues. He also serves as a member of the Board of Directors. Lew joined Rackspace in April of 2000 and has served in a variety of roles, including as President and Chief Strategy Officer, while the company grew to $1.3 billion in annual sales. Before joining Rackspace, he worked for the consulting firm McKinsey & Company, advising technology clients on strategic issues. A native of San Antonio, Lew received a B.A. from Duke University and a J.D. from Stanford Law School.


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