BY MAUREEN O'GARA
Rackspace, which wants to be the "Linux of the cloud" mimicking the now billion-dollar-a-year Red Hat, said Monday that it's "drawing a line in the sand against cloud providers." Everyone agrees it has Amazon, particularly, and VMware, to a certain extent, in mind. However, what'll probably end up happening is that Red Hat, which has a prominent part in the open source OpenStack project that Rackspace started, becomes the "Linux of the cloud" because it's got all the pieces, or thinks it does, but that's another story. Anyway, Rackspace is inching out with a production-ready OpenStack cloud based on Essex, the fifth and best-yet release of the open source cloud platform put in train by Rackspace and NASA in the summer of 2010.
Rackspace CEO Louis Napier told a New York Times blog that he expects to have all his customers, by then perhaps 200,000 businesses, on some or all of an OpenStack system by summer.
The fight is supposed to come down to a duel between the proprietary Amazon APIs, now lauded as the de facto standard of public clouds, and the still immature but open source CloudStack APIs.
Rackspace says come May 1, in roughly two weeks time, it will begin providing customers with default access to widgetry that it's now got in "limited availability."
- Cloud Servers, the Essex-based EC2-like compute piece of OpenStack, a k a Nova, accessible through the new programmable OpenStack API for switching between OpenStack clouds or a new intuitive control panel.
- A built-from-the-ground-up graphical Control Panel that allows server tagging to discriminate between production and development servers so they can be controlled in concert and has multi-region capabilities.
Rackspace says "limited availability" means customers can sign up now, the widgetry is reportedly production workload-ready, there are unspecified SLAs, 24x7 support and regular billing. It seems it could take Rackspace a few months to ensure a smooth ramp-up but the move is supposed to be imperceptible.
Rackspace, which has already got the S3-like Cloud Files storage, a k a Swift, will move all of its public, private and hybrid cloud to this widgetry.
It's also got stuff in "early access" defined as "production workload-ready but with limited support available, no service commitments and no billing.
- OpenStack Cloud Databases (Project Red Dwarf) with API access to a massively scalable, highly available MySQL database with redundant SAN storage for high performance and automated management. Figure on Microsoft SQL Server and other databases too but maybe not from Rackspace. Amazon, of course, has the MySQL-derived Relational Data Service (RDS).
- Single-view Cloud Monitoring of the infrastructure and applications based on Rackspace's acquisition of Cloudkick.
Lastly it's got early versions of products in "preview" looking for testers namely:
- OpenStack Cloud Block Storage, like Amazon's Elastic Block Storage (EBS), but offering either solid state or lower-cost disk storage.
- Cloud Networks, software-defined virtual networks for managing logically abstracted network services programmatically. IDC says Rackspace's Cloud Networks is "going to eliminate some of the hesitation businesses have around cloud adoption." Thank you Cisco et al.
Here's what it all looks like:
Rudimentary pricing will remain the same starting at $0.015 cents an hour for a Linux virtual server with 10GB of disk space and 256MB of RAM and $0.08 an hour for Windows.
Rackspace still has to say what the database, storage and networking will ultimately run.
HP, a chief OpenStack acolyte, won't have a beta take on the Essex platform memorialized in its HP Cloud Services until May 10 with no estimates, as of last week, on when it could have a production public cloud.
There will be OpenStack fragmentation, observers prophecy. HP won't return all the distinguishing tweaks it makes to the community.
Rackspace says on its web site that it's got more than 170,000 businesses and 60% of the Fortune 100 as customers.