OpenStack Celebrates 3 Years of Building Open Source Cloud Platform

The project to deliver a ubiquitous open source cloud computing platform for public and private clouds has become one of the fastest growing open source projects in history.

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Fri, July 19, 2013

CIO — Today, OpenStack turns 3. The open source Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) platform, released under the Apache license, launched in July 2010 with a seemingly simple idea: to deliver a ubiquitous open source cloud computing platform for public and private clouds.

Launched in July 2010 with code donated by Rackspace and NASA, OpenStack has become one of the fastest growing open source efforts in technology: More than 500 individuals from more than 200 different companies contributed to its latest release, Grizzly.

Developers have contributed more than 1 million lines of code, and the stack currently has more than 70,000 contributions from more than 120 countries—an average of 238 contributions per month. The first OpenStack Design Summit & Conference, held in July 2010, boasted 75 attendees. The most recent conference, held in April, had 3,000, and the next one is expected to have more.

"It's the most successful software project I've ever been involved with," says John Igoe, vice president of Private Cloud at RackSpace and a founding member of the OpenStack Foundation. Igoe notes that he's been involved with his share of billion dollar software businesses, "but nothing can match this trajectory."

Three Years Ago the Debate Was Around the Definition of Cloud

"Three years ago, there was a huge debate going on in the industry around what the definition of cloud was," says Igoe, who at the time was executive director of Cloud and Big Data Solutions in the Dell Datacenter Solutions group.

"What we were seeing in the industry was that companies with legacy software environments and legacy compute environments were trying to extend their functionality and call it cloud, says Igoe. But you really can't build a cloud-attributed architecture on top of a legacy-attributed architecture."

There was a danger, Igoe says, that clouds would be built on proprietary stacks, leading to vendor lock-in and stifling the possibilities inherent in cloud computing.

OpenStack's advent helped avert that fate. It quickly gained ground with heavyweights like HP, Dell and IBM, as well as many smaller companies, by providing a series of related projects for controlling pools of compute, storage and networking resources, all managed through a single dashboard.

The initiative has come a long way since the early days, Igoe says. He notes that ahead of one of the first meetings, held in San Antonio, Jim Curry, general manager of Rackspace's private cloud business and one of the driving forces behind OpenStack, called him at Dell to ask for a server rack for use at the meeting. Igoe and some of his colleagues at Dell had to rent a horse trailer to deliver the equipment to the meeting. That rack was the first to run the OpenStack software.

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