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Rackspace acquires ZeroVM, says products could take years

There was hope among Rackspace users this week that the company’s latest acquisition of LiteStack would improve cloud provisioning times, but Rackspace officials said the technology isn’t going to be offered as a product for some time.

LiteStack Inc., the open-source hypervisor company acquired by Rackspace Inc. this week, developed technology based on Google’s Native Client that encapsulates applications rather than virtualizing individual servers. This technology, called ZeroVM, can be provisioned in less than five milliseconds according to LiteStack’s Wiki page.

IT pros who use Rackspace’s Cloud Servers Infrastructure as a Service were immediately interested in how this provisioning time could be applied to improve existing offerings, but company officials said that isn’t where the technology is headed.

Eventually, there will be Rackspace product offerings based on ZeroVM, but not for at least a year if not multiple years, according to Bret Piatt, senior director of corporate development and strategy for Rackspace.

Instead, according to Rackspace spokespeople, what Rackspace has really acquired here is the beginning of an open source community that could change the way computing is done when addressing large sets of data, such as with Hadoop. ZeroVM’s lightweight containers can be provisioned as fast as opening a browser tab, according to Van Lindberg, VP of intellectual property for Rackspace.

Lindberg said the app can be brought to the data rather than having to bring the data to the app for processing, which could also make big data analytics go much faster.

Analysts say Rackspace could also be after additional open-source programming prowess to add to its development team.

“They’re not buying the company so much as they’re picking up the software talent that created ZeroVM,” said Carl Brooks, analyst with Boston-based 451 Research.

Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

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