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Last year, Rackspace (news, site) announced that it will be involved in starting an open-source, open-standards cloud initiative called OpenStack (news, site), along with major industry players such as NASA. OpenStack has since launched release "Austin" in October, with OpenStack Compute and OpenStack Object Storage. Now, OpenStack launched its "Bexar" release, with new features and official documentation, making the software deployment-ready.

The OpenStack initiative was borne out of the perceived concern with deploying proprietary cloud technology. Rackspace (itself a cloud provider via Rackspace Cloud) notes that clients often don't want to be stuck with a proprietary deployment. Meanwhile, service providers need flexibility with their product offerings. Rackspace VP of OpenStack Jim Curry said the collaboration intends to address this.

OpenStack is rapidly moving to solve these problems, and it's evident to us that we need an open cloud standard to best enable hybrid scenarios, federation and easy migration. We appreciate the hundreds of contributors who see the vision and have joined the cause," says Curry.

New Features, Official Documentation

OpenStack initially launched with two core products. First is OpenStack Object Storage, a derivative of Rackspace's Cloud Files. Object Storage is a distributed object store that can store objects using server clusters in a redundant and scalable deployment. OpenStack Compute, meanwhile, is the basic fabric controller for the OpenStack Cloud -- essentially an operating system that manages resources, networking and scalability.

The Bexar release of OpenStack introduces new features on top of the initial October 2010 release. Foremost among these is a streamlined installation process, in which enterprise users can pre-install and create application environments, and then scale these out using the same copy. New Compute features also include IPv6 support, Hyper-V, iSCSI with XenAPI, XenServer snapshots, raw disk images, portability of workloads between OpenStack clouds and a new sub-project called Glance. New Object Storage features include unlimited filesize storage and better integration with OpenStack Compute.

Learning Opportunities

Aside from the new features, Bexar is now more enterprise-friendly, given the availability of official online documentation, which was unavailable when OpenStack Austin came out.

New Community Members

OpenStack has also announced the participation of new community members: Canonical, Cisco, Extreme Networks and Grid Dynamics. A plus is Canonical's commitment to ship OpenStack in its upcoming release of Ubuntu Server 11.04. Meanwhile, Cisco is contributing design specifications, which will help improve OpenStack performance.

OpenStack plans its next release, codenamed "Cactus," for the second quarter of 2011. Cactus will focus on optimizing OpenStack Compute for deployment by service providers, as well as enabling live migration of virtual machines.