This week I spent a day at the Cloud Expo conference in New York. Among several fascinating presentations on different cloud-related topics, John Engates, CTO of Rackspace Hosting, provided a very interesting perspective on OpenStack during his keynote address.


In his keynote, Engates observed that, despite the many business drivers for migrating to cloud computing, 80% of computing is still performed in private data centers, primarily because of the risks involved in moving to cloud environments, whether those risks are real or just perceived.


One of the main risk items is the lack of standards for interoperability between clouds implemented by different service providers. Engates identified OpenStack as a key platform for achieving this interoperability, pointing out that it has already been adopted by large organizations as diverse as CERN, Cisco, Dell, HP, NASA, Sony, Wikipedia and of course Rackspace.


Positioning OpenStack as the optimum “Cloud Operating System”, Engates described how it exposes APIs that connect applications to compute, storage and networking resources, enabling the appropriate level of end-user control and configuration.


Engates mentioned that Rackspace has been using OpenStack for two years. By running their cloud services on OpenStack, they are able to spin up hundreds of servers in just a few minutes in response to customer requests or increasing traffic patterns. OpenStack enables them to implement networks that are fully controllable via APIs, including fully-isolated Layer 2 networks optimized for both multicast and broadcast. They also run their block storage subsystems and cloud databases (e.g. MySQL) on OpenStack.


A key enabler for the widespread adoption of OpenStack is its inclusion in commercial Linux distributions from companies such as Suse, Red Hat and Ubuntu.


Engates summarized the value of OpenStack as being the only viable Data Center Operating System.


Were you at Cloud Expo this week? Do you agree with Rackspace’s assessment of OpenStack? What are the main benefits and risks in adopting it for data centers?