Private Cloud Software Released by Rackspace

Rackspace has made available free software for the purpose of  building private clouds based on the same platform that runs the company's cloud hosting service.

Alamo, code-named for the company's Rackspace Private Cloud Software, is now available as a free download. The release, issued this week, marks a key milestone in Rackspace's plan to transition its cloud portfolio from its proprietary infrastructure to OpenStack, the open-source project the company helped launch with NASA two years ago.

Earlier this month, Rackspace completed the conversion of its server compute infrastructure running its public cloud service to OpenStack.

By offering its OpenStack-based software free of charge, Rackspace is betting that it will seed enterprise deployments of private clouds based on its open source solution. In turn, Rackspace is hoping enterprise customers will subscribe to its support services while also using its public cloud infrastructure for cloudbursting, the deployment model a growing number of those running datacenters are employing when they need capacity during peek periods.  

Jim Curry, general manager of Cloud Builders, Rackspace's private cloud organization, explained Alamo is geared to those looking to build such clouds to those who don't have backgrounds with OpenStack. "To date most of the market for OpenStack has been people who were experts in it," Curry said. "We wanted to make it so a systems administrator who doesn't know anything about OpenStack and maybe knows a little bit about cloud, can easily get an OpenStack cloud up and running so they can evaluate and determine if it's a good solution on the same day." Curry said the software can be deployed in an hour.

Customers can opt for additional fee-based services, starting with Escalation Support, which starts at $2,500 plus $100 per physical node per month. At the next level, Rackspace will offer proactive support, which will include monitoring, patching and upgrading. Then sometime next year, Curry said Rackspace plans to offer complete management of OpenStack-based private clouds. The company hasn't set pricing for those latter offerings.

The initial Alamo software consists of the standard Essex release of OpenStack Nova compute infrastructure services, the Horizon dashboard, the Nova Multi Scheduler, Keystone authentication and the standard APIs. It also includes the Glance Image Library (a repository of system images), the Ubuntu-based distribution of Linux from Canonical as the host operating system with KVM-based virtualization and Chef Cookbooks from Opscode, which provide various OpenStack-based configuration scenarios.

In addition to supporting the Ubuntu distribution of Linux, Rackpace indents to support Red Hat Enterprise Linux with its OpenStack release, made available for testing this week. That support will come later in the year. A later release will also add support for SWIFT-based object storage, according to Curry.

Asked if Windows Server support is in the works, Mike Aeschliman, Rackspace Cloud Builders head of engineering, said not at this point. "To be honest, I think we will stick with Linux for a while because that's what the market is asking of us," Aeschliman said.

As for Rackspace's outreach to its channel of systems integration partners, Curry said they are aware of Alamo but the company hasn't reached out further yet. "We absolutely want to do that," Curry said. Because Rackspace's Alamo software is "plain-vanilla" OpenStack, the company plans to look to its partners to customize, or fork, it, and contribute it back to the community, Curry said.

Rackspace plan is to leverage its SIs to provide customization services, consulting, application migration and API integration into billing systems he explained. "These are not things we specialize in," he said. "We don't want to be the guys that do that work. We have great partners to do that."


About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.