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NASA Open Source News

Rackspace Releases Cloud Stack As Open Source 65

zerocool^ writes "Techcrunch is reporting that Rackspace is open-sourcing their cloud computing technologies, under the name OpenStack. Rackspace has chosen to release under the Apache 2.0 license. The initial release encompasses the cloud object storage and cloud virtual server management suites. Along with this release, NASA is contributing technology from its Nebula Cloud Platform. Early partners include Intel, Dell, and Citrix."
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Rackspace Releases Cloud Stack As Open Source

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  • by ciaran_o_riordan ( 662132 ) on Monday July 19, 2010 @05:16AM (#32948492) Homepage

    Among the permissive licences, Apache 2.0 has the best patent retaliation clause:

    If You institute patent litigation against any entity (including a cross-claim or counterclaim in a lawsuit) alleging that the Work or a Contribution incorporated within the Work constitutes direct or contributory patent infringement, then any patent licenses granted to You under this License for that Work shall terminate as of the date such litigation is filed.

    • by zwei2stein ( 782480 ) on Monday July 19, 2010 @06:56AM (#32948850) Homepage

      It is basically same thing that most big companies do to each other: Before you sue us because of patent issues, remember that we hold quite a bit of patents too. Patents that you use. MAD doctrine minus nukes, plus patents.

      • Exactly. And we'll all be better off when companies looking for a "BSD-style" licence start choosing the Apache 2.0 licence instead of the others which users no patent grant and no retaliation clause.

      • by sharkey ( 16670 )

        MAD doctrine minus nukes, plus patents.

        So MAD Cat and Dr. Claw are still involved? Cool.

    • You do realize that this will never hold up in court, right ?

      It is not allowed, for obvious reasons, to threaten someone out of using the court system. Everyone has a right to file a complaint, for any reason, against anyone (except in Europe the king of the country in question), without any consequences.

      Does it really need to be explained why ?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        > Everyone has a right to file a complaint [...] without any consequences.

        That's true for violations of criminal law (the State v. X, e.g. murder), but not for civil offences (X v. Y, e.g. copyright dispute).

        Your suggestion would invalidate every promise not to sue. The software industry uses loads of promises not to sue []. All the lawyers that help free software say that a promise not to sue is good. What makes you think you're right and they're wrong? (Sorry to use an "appeal to authority" reply

      • Everyone has a right to file a complaint, for any reason, against anyone (except in Europe the king of the country in question), without any consequences.

        Any? Well, there's:

          legal costs (possibly the other side's too),
          being charged with barratry and/or tortuitous interference,
          being named a vexatious litigant,
          countersuits for malicious prosecution.

        But apart from those, no consequences at all.

  • All up in the Cloud. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Forge ( 2456 ) <> on Monday July 19, 2010 @05:24AM (#32948532) Homepage Journal
    Ahh... Nothing brightens my day like more free stuff. Especially Cloud Stuff I may actually use :)

    Lot's of little boxes with AMD and Intel chips. No more big Iron. That is the dream. We aren't there yet as we still have an app or two that needs a $1,100,000 Sun box to run but this is where our data center is headed, A great pile of little servers and no concern if any one or two of them keels over.

    Posted from the chilly Data Center of a Phone Company/ISP.
    • May I ask: what's your opinion on the TCO of "lots of little boxes" vs Big Iron, especially in terms of energy consumption and maintenance?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Forge ( 2456 )

        May I ask: what's your opinion on the TCO of "lots of little boxes" vs Big Iron, especially in terms of energy consumption and maintenance?

        This depends on your specific situation and the specific application and hardware in question. Where we have replaced big iron with lots of little boxes, the total Electricity consumption was about the same. But that was mostly because of age. Newer machines do more per watt consumed.

        The savings come from increased reliability and reduced hardware cost. I.e. The Million Dollar Sun box mentioned in my initial post would be replaced by about a dozen $5,000 Dell Servers. This won't happen anytime soon

    • by xnt14 ( 1656123 )
      Seconded; more OSS Tools are better for the people. :)
    • In my market, Virtualization means that I will run fewer, much larger (I mean, not /big iron/ ... we're talking dual socket, 16-24 core opterons with 64GiB ram) servers, rather than many smaller servers. The market I rent servers to demands small servers. I can save a lot of money by running one 64GiB, 24 core monster vs 8 8GiB boxes.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by bsDaemon ( 87307 )

      All clouds are free... you just have to go outside to see them.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by quanticle ( 843097 )

      Lots of little boxes with AMD and Intel chips. No more big iron. That is the dream.

      As I understand it, Rackspace Cloud simply allows one to automatically provision virtual machines for applications in a simple and automatic manner. It is still up to the application to maintain synchronization between multiple instances and plan for failovers in case one of the servers goes down. So, unless the application has been specifically written for a "cloud" environment, the cloud is no more reliable than a single server. Deploying to the cloud won't make your application magically more scalable

      • by Forge ( 2456 )
        It is all cost vs Benefit. If a company can get a major application ported to a cloud environment at a fraction of the cost of moving it to the next generation of compatible big iron, they will do just that.

        Hardware, Software, Support, Power, Space, Labor etc... All costs matter.

        This is why Linux is taking over more jobs in the Data Center and when it dose loose a task it's usually to a more specialized Open Platform, Like our bandwidth testing server which we dumped on an old 1u Sun box running OpenB
    • I think it's funny that they want to help the world avoid "vendor lock-in!" Open source is great, clouds are great, but a few hosting companies out there are capitalists and for profit enterprises. Mike Flaherty Online Tech
  • video (Score:5, Informative)

    by porjo ( 964384 ) on Monday July 19, 2010 @05:27AM (#32948552)

    There's a video up on youtube from BusinessWeek which gives a nice overview: []

    • Re:video (Score:4, Informative)

      by FuckingNickName ( 1362625 ) on Monday July 19, 2010 @07:40AM (#32949014) Journal

      Right, I see a diagram with three big areas surrounded by both circles and rectangles and with more little rectangles inside:
      and two smaller areas surrounded only by one rectangle:

      And I hear quotes like:

      "OpenStack enabled us to better serve our customers. In an open-standards based cloud world, cloud interoperability and cloud portability is increased [...] Our cloud today is the second largest cloud in the marketplace and by launching OpenStack we further increase our commitment to the cloud."

      ...I was shocked that this little speech didn't end with, "Praise be to the cloud."

      Am I the only one that wants to stab my head with a fork whenever someone starts talking about "cloud" technology? Look, we've had compute and storage clusters for decades... tell us in precise technical terms what you're offering that's new and why it'd be suitable for general projects.

      • Re:video (Score:4, Funny)

        by Nerdfest ( 867930 ) on Monday July 19, 2010 @08:10AM (#32949210)
        I don't know you well enough to determine whether or not it's annoying enough to stab you in the head with a fork, but it is getting a little annoying.
      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Oh come on, it's not that hard. Cloud computing services charge a rate more closely related to actual use. That is, per CPU cycle. Sure, you could previously rent mainframe time but that was (relatively) difficult to do and not likely to be on a familiar architecture to most developers out there. Cloud computing also gives you a lot of flexibility to ramp up the number of instances you use when you temporarily need more horsepower such as during your Christmas sale on your website or something. So in s

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by zerocool^ ( 112121 )

          And, with a cloud object storage system, the ability to upload things and not worry about file replication / redundancy. That's the idea for the end user - redundancy is taken care of. OpenStack lets people not worry about the system that worries about end user replication.

      • Re:video (Score:4, Interesting)

        by value_added ( 719364 ) on Monday July 19, 2010 @08:44AM (#32949506)

        Am I the only one that wants to stab my head with a fork whenever someone starts talking about "cloud" technology? Look, we've had compute and storage clusters for decades... tell us in precise technical terms what you're offering that's new and why it'd be suitable for general projects.

        I think that's a disease that inflicts all companies catering to "enterprise" users.

        Most people have at least a passing familiarity with Microsoft's nomenclature, where everything is constructed with an overlong string of polysyllabic names, sometimes (but not always) prefixed with "Microsoft". Service names are just one example. On *nix, you have daemons with one-word names that you stop|start|restart. Useage is as clear as its configuration and implementation. Ask a Windows admin about a given service, and he'll probably know its name, but how it works, how it's implemented and how it's configured will result in a blank stare.

        Then, of course, there's the folks at VMware. Not only do they adopt the same enterprisey naming conventions that vendors like Microsoft use, but they go and change them to similarly nutty names, making no attempt to distinguish the new name from the old one. Their documentation, while reasonably complete, is bewildering to read. God help you if you are considering (or looking for) the "free" version of the "VMware vSphere Hypervisor".

        What I can't figure out who is who these people think their audience is. Technical people want techncial answers. Instead, they get vague references to "technologies", a few hundred links to "knowledge base articles", and yet another frigging "control panel" to dumb down and obfuscate everything.

        • Ask a Windows admin about a given service, and he'll probably know its name, but how it works, how its implemented and how its configured will result in a blank stare.

          The push for "enterprise technology" to have "control panels" and "configuration wizards" is related both in cause and effect to the aforementioned Windows admin. The admin is dumb, so there's pressure on the vendor to make the software idiot proof. They attempt to do by wrapping all the "dangerous" configuration details in bubble wrap^W^W control panels. This only makes the aforementioned admins dumber, since they become reliant on the wizards and control panels and no longer know how to configure the a

          • Not the case ALL_THE_TIME.

            I mean I don't want to be using scripts to re-image PCs / push software packages / check compliance.

            However at the same time I'm not necessarily a complete fan of what they give me to do this (Altiris).

            Hell yes it has saved me a crap ton of time dealing with 400+ windows boxes, but if there were a product that stood up to it on the 10,000+ node level, I would switch in a heartbeat.

            I guess windows7 is getting there. However migrating to linux + WINE has been tried and will never ge

      • Buzzword Express (Score:5, Interesting)

        by EriktheGreen ( 660160 ) on Monday July 19, 2010 @09:17AM (#32949872) Journal
        (grabs fork)

        No, just take a few deep breaths and it'll go away.

        "Cloud computing" is the current buzzword express. Like "thin clients" or Ubiquitous Java or AJAX or any number of technological trends before it, it's a way for non technical executive types to "lead" by grasping hold of something they don't understand. It's a handle for managers to move large concepts around with. It doesn't matter that it's not a significant advance in technology, science, or cybernetics. Its purpose is to pick an arbitrary spot for the industry to orbit around for a while.

        Most importantly, it's a way for technical types to manipulate executives, managers, and marketers. Want to sell an idea or concept to a manager? Ride the buzzword express. Even if it's a no-brainer idea that should be done to keep the company afloat, and the managers are smart enough to realize that, the easiest way to sell it is to use buzzwords. This lets the executives know you're listening to them, gives them a warm fuzzy feeling of being in control, and distracts the marketing people.

        The Buzzword Express even labels for you those technical wanna-bes and young idealistic programmer types who have plenty of enthusiasm and not much real world experience. Just listen for the buzzwords...anyone taking them seriously can't be worth too much face time. It helps you weed out the riff-raff.

        The only cost is that you sometimes are forced to listen to announcements about it. Just keep breathing...

        • by Maudib ( 223520 )

          The cloud space is certainly buzz heavy, however it does represent some major new concepts.

          The ability to provision/consume infrastructure on-demand via an API is pretty new. Certainly there was never a comprehensive set of services like S3/EC2/ELB/EBS/SMS exposed under a simple common API until amazon web services. This does radically alter the way small/medium business can develop applications and provision resources.

          • But... new != noteworthy.

            Can is also not the same as "will".

            Other than a few test or aborted development efforts and some niche markets, "cloud" computing has yet to become anything more than something for pundits to write articles about.

            I predict there will be a few showpiece successes for the technologies labeled "cloud computing" before everyone realizes it's just another marketing label for the same "let's run our programs on someone else's computer" tech that's been around forever.

            That'll happ

        • Don't forget Blade Servers...nice buzz word. OK i guess that's a specific technology, but so is thin clients in your example.

  • i've built multiple instances of cloud architectures... generally it's not going to be much more complicated than it would be to describe how your datacenter(s) and database(s) and nodes are connected. generally the most optimization can be gained by adapting a specific application to the specific cloud architecture. there is probably a lot of vendor lock that comes free with this open source. i'm a fan of rolling your own in cases like this... it isn't very complicated, and you can add optimization case
  • ok, but what is it? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by FuckingNickName ( 1362625 ) on Monday July 19, 2010 @07:03AM (#32948864) Journal

    Why is it that any article about something "cloud"y doesn't tell me what is actually being sold. Could someone give me a functional overview of what this software achieves, perhaps putting into the context of similar software? Thank you.

    (I haven't interacted with Rackspace since some fairly poorly supported dedicated server hosting about 8 years ago!)

    • The initial release encompasses the cloud object storage and cloud virtual server management suites.

      In other words, it's the software that lets people upload files to the distributed network, and the software to manage their virtual servers. Without looking any deeper, it seems to be enough to run your own cloud-based storage system. Need to store more data than one machine can handle? This might do it for you.

    • by f3rret ( 1776822 )

      Mostly they're selling the same stuff they've always been selling, it's just now they got a fancy new buzzword.

      Isn't marketing fun?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by quanticle ( 843097 )

      As far as I can tell, the software they've released allows you to start, stop and configure large numbers of virtual machines in a fully automatic fashion. In other words, you can set up your own cluster more quickly than if you had to set up all the VMs manually.

    • by tomweeks ( 148410 ) Works for Rackspace on Monday July 19, 2010 @10:33AM (#32950790) Homepage

      Hey there... man, :)

      In a nut shell, Cloud Files is the Rackspace equivalent to AmazonS3 online storage webservice or "file hosting service", except Cloud Files also includes CDN (content distribution services) via limelight. Cloud Servers is the Rackspace Xen offering, and Cloud Sites is the web and DB hosting services. All wrapped up with the Rackspace Cloud control panel and back end auth-API. Here's some sales-less info on them: Scanning over it though I see that wikipedia article is a bit out of date. Our Cloud Servers offering DOES actually support Windows VMs now (in beta). Though I'm more a Linux guys myself.. ;)

      Part of the coolness is that between the Cloud Servers and Cloud Files systems, we have a publicnet and servicenet interface. The latter allows direct "intra-cloud" transfers, while public (external) clients can hit the same content via CDN (limelight), allowing you to distribute your content and load via embedded URL around the world without hitting any one data center.


      • by Nethead ( 1563 )

        Had a chance to work for two weeks next to your Slicehost cages in STL at S&D. (Very loud drives, or just lots of them.) Looks to be a very insightful use of cheap hardware to make a robust system. It will be interesting to look at your released code. Thank you!

    • by pdbaby ( 609052 )

      They've open-sourced management code from their Infrastructure-as-a-Service cloud provider (like Amazon EC2) and their blob store (like Amazon S3), meaning you can use this release to build a public/private cloud provider. The IaaS provider code ("OpenStack Compute") is a preview and they say October is their release date.

      As an open source cloud provider codebase it joins Eucalyptus, OpenNebula and a few others -- however (and since I've not used the rackspace cloud I don't know whether this is at all accur

  • Literally (Score:4, Funny)

    by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Monday July 19, 2010 @07:16AM (#32948898) Homepage Journal


  • This is a great step for the open source community and this might help give a big push into cloud computing in the Linux world. I know I read the Linux Journal and they are always talking about cloud computing and Linux being a strong back end.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by lemur3 ( 997863 )

      I have been using the rackspace linux cloud computing platform for just under a year and i have to say that it is pretty darn cool.

      if this software has every feature that i currently get when buying access (like web front end for dealing with instances.. and the API etc..) it will surely be welcome to some opensource folks.

  • Citrix

    Dammit, there is nothing they can't ruin.

  • Why is this tagged NASA? Is it because it has the word "nebula" in it?
    • From TFS:
      "Along with this release, NASA is contributing technology from its Nebula Cloud Platform"

  • Smoke....




  • Awesome! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Improv ( 2467 ) <> on Monday July 19, 2010 @09:45AM (#32950234) Homepage Journal

    I hope this is more of the "we hope to work with you" type of release than the "dropping kittens in a box at the side of the highway" type of release. Either way, good to have software to manage this kind of thing.

  • I reported on this for and the analyst i interviewed has a bit to say about what exactly is going to stop this from working. Feature, mostly about platform lock-in as the thing this scheme is fighting and the thing that may keep it from success is here: []

I've noticed several design suggestions in your code.