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OpenStack Foundation Breaks Corporate Ties

Eric is a veteran British tech journalist, currently editing ChannelBiz for NetMediaEurope. With expertise in security, the channel, and Britain's startup culture, through his TechBritannia initiative

The OpenStack cloud standards body will become an fully autonomous foundation in 2012

OpenStack is set to begin the second stage of its existence as an open standard with the formation of a non-profit-making foundation which will solely be in charge of the intellectual property and the management of development projects.

The OpenStack Foundation was announced at the organisation’s conference in Boston, Massachusetts, today and it is hoped to officially open for business in 2012, though an actual date has yet to be set.

From Two To Many

OpenStack was the brainchild of cloud hosting company Rackspace and the US space organisation NASA which both donated the code that kicked off the initiative in July, 2010. At that point the organisation had just over 20 members. Now that the membership number has reached over 110, it is time to break the links to the founders and set the project loose among the OpenStack community, which now includes large corporations, including Dell, Cisco, Canonical, HP and Akamai.

When the organisation was formed it was treated with caution by some potential members. In an interview with eWEEK Europe UK, Jonathan Bryce, founder of Rackspace Cloud and chairman of the OpenStack Policy Board, explained:

“At the beginning, people used to say, ‘Is this some kind of a PR gimmick?’, or ‘Is it a trick where you’re going to try to get us to use software that is inferior to yours?’ There were lots of questions – but we’ve tried really hard to run OpenStack in a way that’s transparent and inclusive. We’ve managed to get a lot of involvement, input and direction from the community and it’s now strong enough for us to say that it’s time to make this move now.”

In just over a year, the OpenStack community is taking in code contributions from a broad group of developers. For example, in a recent OpenStack “Diablo” release milestone, developers from eight different companies had contributed 12 features.

OpenStack start-ups are also gaining funds, including Piston Cloud Computing and cloud environment appliance maker Nebula, both founded by ex-NASA employees who helped create OpenStack and are now forming companies around it. TechStars, a seed-funding channel for venture capital financing, recently announced an accelerator programme for cloud start-ups focused on technologies such as OpenStack.

The organisation is also gaining influential adopters such as CERN, Sony Computer Entertainment America, Fidelity, and Disney.

The Wait Of Involvement

It is because of this weight of involvement that a precise date for the formation of the OpenStack Foundation cannot be given, said Bryce. Much has to be decided on the structure of the Foundation and staff will then be appointed for the daily running and co-ordination of the community.

“We’re not going to do this in a darkened room somewhere, we’re announcing it fairly early on and openly so that everyone can be involved and help us put the Foundation on a path that is best for all the participants,” he explained.

He added that he feels the promise of a vendor-neutral, truly open cloud standard is within reach and that by working together as a community something much bigger can be achieved which will have a lasting impact on the future of computing.