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Rackspace Wants to Entrust OpenStack to a Foundation

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Rackspace has announced the intention to create a foundation by 2012 which will completely take over OpenStack, creating the opportunity for a truly open source cloud computing project, alleviating concerns that the platform is too tightly controlled by them.

Rackspace opened sourced their storage source code and formed Project OpenStack including NASA Nebula’s computing engine last year, promising an open cloud computing platform for anyone interested in joining the project. While many companies joined the project, not many have been investing development resources into it. Only 8 companies have submitted new code, and most of the code comes from Rackspace itself. That may have to do with concerns regarding the project’s future development and Rackspace’s too large involvement in project’s governance.

Rick Clark, former engineer at Rackspace, commented earlier this year in a blog post entitled “Why I Left Rackspace and What About OpenStack”, expressing his fears that OpenStack was not so open after all:

I think that Rackspace is trying to control OpenStack rather than influence it. A perfect example is the recent change in governance. … Basically, Rackspace made governance changes without talking to the development community or the sitting governance board. This is extremely problematic for the health of the project.

Rackspace’s promise that they won’t mess things up was not enough, Clark wondering what would happen if another company would take over Rackspace, saying “What happens if Rackspace is under new management, say Oracle, for example?” inferring to what happened to Java after Sun being acquired by Oracle. Clark proposed that OpenStack should be entrusted to a foundation rather than being in the hands of any company.

And exactly that is what Rackspace is planning to do next. Mark Collier, VP of Marketing for OpenStack, has announced Rackspace’s intention to form a Foundation in 2012 which will take over all OpenStacks’s intellectual property and trademarks, governing the entire project. The news was shared publicly with all partners at the Design Summit 2011 yesterday, the details of the organization remaining to be decided in the following months based on “feedback from others in the community” with the vision of a “vendor-neutral, truly open cloud standard”. Chris Kemp, CEO of Nebula, added that “Whatever the foundation’s makeup, the goal is to keep the resulting platform open and evolving.”

If the foundation that will be formed will be as successful as Apache or Eclipse, then OpenStack has a good chance to become a major contender in the cloud computing space, especially since the over 100 companies backing it up include important players such as HP, Cisco, Intel, Dell, RightScale, AMD and many others, and some of them are already or entering right now in the cloud computing business.

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