Rackspace soon to partner with developers of private OpenStack distros

Rackspace plans to include commercial private OpenStack distributions in its Rackspace Cloud: Private Edition offering

Rackspace expects to soon announce commercial private OpenStack distributions that it will support as part of its Rackspace Cloud: Private Edition set of services.

Rackspace launched Rackspace Cloud: Private Edition late last year to help businesses build and run private OpenStack clouds. As part of the offering, Rackspace defined a reference architecture that specified hardware and software options. Customers who use that reference architecture are eligible to sign up to use Rackspace's support services.

It compiled its own version of OpenStack for customers to use. "We did a lot of our own packaging of OpenStack and a lot of our own builds of OpenStack because there weren't good commercial options out there," said Jim Curry, general manager of Rackspace's Cloud Builders program.

"We're not a software distributor per se. We had to do the mechanics that made it feel like it. But we'd rather consume other offerings," he said.

Now that other companies are beginning to release their OpenStack distributions for private clouds, Rackspace is working toward integrating some of them into its reference architecture, he said. The company expects to make more specific announcements in the coming months, he said.

"We want to work with a lot of different companies. We want a lot of different distributions and OSes to be a part of what we offer to customers," Curry said.

Supporting other distributions is logical for Rackspace, said James Staten, an analyst with Forrester Research.

Rackspace is likely to partner with companies that have worked hard on differentiating their distributions but aren't really positioning themselves to become major providers of services. "Everybody is going to try to get some of that support revenue because it's lucrative," Staten said.

Still, developers like Piston, which is offering an OpenStack distribution for private clouds, have a unique distribution with value added components, Staten said. "I don't foresee Piston becoming a big services and support organization, so this would be a natural partnership opportunity with Rackspace," he said.

Citrix, however, clearly wants to offer support services. "It's pretty unlikely they'd want to partner" with Rackspace, Staten said.

There has been growing activity among companies working on private OpenStack products. While there has been interest in using OpenStack for private clouds since the start of the project, enterprises initially weren't ready to jump in, Staten said. "This year they have budget for it, so the vendor community is getting excited," he said.

Piston, Nebula, Suse and Cloudscaling are among companies offering or developing products for building private OpenStack clouds.

Nancy Gohring covers mobile phones and cloud computing for The IDG News Service. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @idgnancy. Nancy's e-mail address is Nancy_Gohring@idg.com

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