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Rackspace, Red Hat eye private clouds with OpenStack cloud offerings

Red Hat and Rackspace have private clouds in mind with new OpenStack distributions, but enterprise adoption likely won't come until the next release.

Enterprise IT pros interested in OpenStack got some new options this week as a preview of Red Hat's distribution and a new installation package from Rackspace became available.

Experts see these releases as steps in the right direction but also say that some basic elements of the software need brushing up for OpenStack cloud products to see widespread adoption in enterprise private clouds

Many in the enterprise are waiting and watching OpenStack closely, according to Kyle Basset, principal consultant for Toronto-based independent consulting firm Archestration, but few have adopted it yet.

Enterprises already familiar with Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization are more likely to trust Red Hat's distribution of OpenStack, but "getting a lot of these enterprises to convert over to a fully open source platform that's brand new is going to be a tough challenge," Basset said.

Public cloud service providers also say there's work to be done before they can roll out their cloud services on OpenStack. "OpenStack is still in really heavy development," said Carl Perry, cloud architect for Brea, Calif.-based hosting provider DreamHost.

Improvements ahead with OpenStack Folsom

DreamHost anticipates the next release of OpenStack, dubbed Folsom for its network virtualization layer, Quantum. It also has a storage integration element called Cinder, which allows OpenStack's Nova servers to boot directly from networked storage.

The Keystone identity access management system and Horizon Web portal, together called Essex, are two other key components of the current release that need improvement, said James Staten, analyst with Forrester Research.

These components caused some friction between the OpenStack community and some of the third parties that deliver OpenStack because they were initially seen as part of the value the third parties could add to their individual distributions, Staten said. But the community eventually won control.

With the debate settled, the Folsom release will have the first commercially ready versions of Keystone and Horizon.

Red Hat's distribution, based on the current Essex release of OpenStack, is still an unsupported preview. Red Hat also implies that OpenStack will be commercially ready with the Folsom release and pledges a fully supported distribution based on that release in 2013.

Rackspace advances Nova server

Meanwhile, one of OpenStack's original champions, Rackspace, is working to make the Nova server element of OpenStack easier to install with a new package that combines Opscode's Chef Server configuration automation software with Horizon, Keystone, the Glance Image Library, the Ubuntu operating system and KVM hypervisor.

The installer will set up a relatively modestly sized cluster -- Rackspace has tested the installation package on up to 20 nodes -- automatically, eliminating the headaches commonly associated with setting up Nova.

Today, setup is commonly done through scripts, "which is great if you're a developer, but not good if you're an end user or an administrator," said DreamHost's Perry.

Beth Pariseau is a senior news writer for and Write to her at or follow her @PariseauTT on Twitter.

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