OpenStack, Open Source Cloud Computing

One of the fears some system administrators have expressed regarding cloud computing is that it can potentially lock your data into proprietary software, and that is compounded by having that software hosted remotely. You are essentially trusting all of your data and applications to a service provider that may or may not be around in five years.

Even keeping backups of your data does not ensure that you will be able to release it from whatever proprietary format your cloud service provider used. One solution that some providers offer is a cloud platform, where the cloud service only provides the online operating system and development environment, leaving application development to the customer.

Another, more comprehensive solution, is to provide an open source cloud environment, one that can be ported to any server. Now, imagine the above scenario, but imagine being able to literally move your entire cloud infrastructure from one server to another, or even one service provider to another.

OpenStack, a collaborative effort of several organizations, offers just that, an open source cloud solution for both public and private clouds. The project describes itself as a “scalable, secure, standards-based cloud computing solution”.

OpenStack currently has two projects: Compute, which is essentially a virtual machine controller, and Object Storage, which offers scalable, redundant, long-term storage system.

OpenStack’s current two projects are both free and released under the Apache License. Contributors to the project include NASA, Dell, Rackspace, Citrix, AMD, Intel, and many others.

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