OpenStack: An Open Source Cloud for VARs and MSPs?

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Within the next few weeks, Rackspace is expected to announce key milestones for OpenStack, the open source cloud computing standard. But how will VARs and managed services providers potentially benefit from OpenStack? The VAR Guy went straight to the source, interviewing Jim Curry, chief stacker for Rackspace's OpenStack effort. Here's the conversation, recorded at the Rackspace Partner Leadership Summit in San Antonio, Texas, earlier today.

In the FastChat video below Curry covers:
  • 0:00 - Introduction
  • 0:11 - What is Rackspace's goal for OpenStack?
  • 0:54 - How do VARs and MSPs potentially fit into the OpenStack conversation?
  • 1:33 - What is the status of OpenStack -- what's real and what's forthcoming?
  • 2:22 - Are software developers assisting the OpenStack effort?
  • 3:35 - More information and web links
  • 3:49 - Conclusion

Reading Between the Lines

Curry doesn't say it word-for-word, but OpenStack is Rackspace's open source alternative to proprietary clouds launched by Amazon, Google and Microsoft. Rackspace's goal is to promote OpenStack to numerous service providers and corporate data center managers, so that customers and channel partners can easily move their SaaS applications from one OpenStack-based cloud to the next.

Off camera, Curry noted:
"This is not a clean, packaged up product. It’s a project. We’re not making it easy for SMBs to deploy. We want the ecosystem to do it. We’d love to have VARs involved in the project and have them visible so customers can find deployment partners more easily. We’re starting to get contacted by vendors that want to serve SMBs. Dell is a great example. I think they want to work with smaller channel partners and take it OpenStack to market."
That's certainly true. Dell Cloud Evangelist Barton George attended this week's Rackspace Partner Leadership Summit to promote Dell's initial OpenStack efforts, which focus mainly on large service providers. But it's safe to expect Dell to expand its cloud efforts to address VARs and MSPs, The VAR Guy believes.

Pros and Cons

Of course, Rackspace runs the risk of having its own OpenStack customers defect to other OpenStack cloud providers. But Curry says "Fanatical Support" will allow Rackspace to retain OpenStack customers.

Admittedly, OpenStack is not ready for deployment quite yet. Service providers are testing an OpenStack Storage release now, and an OpenStack Compute release is expected to debut October 21. Sometime in November, Rackspace is expected to host an OpenStack developer summit for roughly 300 attendees. And sometime in 2011, it sounds like RackSpace expects OpenStack to be ready for prime time.

Big service providers are certainly giving OpenStack a look. The VAR Guy will be watching to see if smaller VARs and MSPs also jump on the bandwagon.

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