Rackspace Opens Up OpenStack With Planned Foundation

by Sean Kerner

A new open source foundation is set to take shape.

During the course of the past year, the OpenStack open source cloud project has grown significantly from its origins as a joint effort of Rackspace and NASA.

The project has grown to more than 90 members and has emerged as one of the leading cloud platform efforts. At the same time, the core OpenStack trademarks and intellectual property have remained with Rackspace, but that's soon going to change.

Rackspace is now moving to set up an OpenStack Foundation that will be the steward of OpenStack project.

"We don't have a foundation right now; what we're doing is kicking off the process to get one set up," Jonathan Bryce, chairman of the Project Policy Board for OpenStack told InternetNews.com. "Like everything else we've done with OpenStack, we intend to do that in collaboration with the rest of the community."

Bryce noted that the recent OpenStack Diablo release demonstrated how much of a community-led project OpenStack has become. There are five separate projects within OpenStack. Of them, three are led by Rackspace and two are led by others in the community.

Bryce said that to date Rackspace has invested "millions" in the project. From a business perspective, the project is operated as OpenStack LLC, which is wholly owned by Rackspace. OpenStack LLC owns the intellectual property copyrights and trademarks associated with OpenStack. Bryce said those assets would move to the Foundation.

Overall, Rackspace sees OpenStack as an investment.

"OpenStack has been a huge strategic bet and investment for us," Mark Collier, VP of marketing and business development at Rackspace, told InternetNews.com. "It's something that is already paying huge dividends for the company by setting a standard for the industry, as well as building a better platform."

By moving OpenStack into its own non-profit foundation, the doors also open up for additional sponsorship and grant money opportunities. Bryce noted that as a foundation, OpenStack will be able to attract a different type of investment than is currently available under the direction of Rackspace.

At this point, it's not yet known what the actual governance and shape of the OpenStack Foundation will be, but there are plenty of successful open source models to emulate and learn from, including the Eclipse Foundation and the Apache Software Foundation.

"We're very focused on encouraging contribution and involvement and the Apache license is a bit part of that," Bryce said. "Even though we at Rackspace have been the stewards of OpenStack, we have always tried to be inclusive and make sure that technical decisions are driven by technical leaders, rather than the people that are writing checks."

"We intend to keep those basic elements in place and we will protect and maintain then in a foundation structure," Bryce added.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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This article was originally published on Thursday Oct 6th 2011
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