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Open Source OpenStack ARMs the Cloud

By Sean Michael Kerner (Send Email)
Updated July 19, 2012
Posted July 18, 2012


Two years ago at the OSCON open source conference, NASA and Rackspace got up on stage to announce OpenStack.

Fast forward to today, and OpenStack now has the support of major IT vendors including Cisco, HP, Dell, AT&T, IBM, Red Hat, Canonical and SUSE. And while OpenStack has been an x86-based technology for the entire length of the project's history, that is now set to change.

OpenStack is set to be available on ARM for users to try out via the Trystack effort. TryStack debuted in February this year as a way for users to "try" OpenStack in a freely available hosted environment.

OpenStack - Rounded"OpenStack was designed from the beginning to be agnostic to different technologies," Mark Collier, VP of Marketing and Business Development for OpenStack at Rackspace, told InternetNews.

The ARM version of OpenStack will be powered by servers from startup Calxeda. Calxeda is part of HP's Project Moonshot effort, which is bringing ARM-based scale-out computing hardware to the market. The first Moonshot servers powered by Calxeda ARM are codenamed Redstone and provide massive scalability of up to 2,800 servers in a single rack.

On TryStack there is now a zoned sandbox that will enable developers to run OpenStack on Calxeda ARM-based hardware.

"If you look at how big data centers are getting, we know that power is the biggest driver of cost," Collier said. "So I'm bullish on ARM as a disruptive technology."

In the past, different hardware architecture represented a serious and significant challenge for applications. When it comes to the cloud, though, hardware is more abstracted, making the physical devices less important from an application developer perspective.

Collier noted that the end state that the cloud market is moving to is one where users don't need to know and don't care about the underlying hardware. He added that the reality is that Linux is now the operating system of most data centers, and Linux will run on ARM. That said, he noted that with ARM, at least initially, what will likely be the case is the 80/20 rule will be in effect for applications. That is, 80 percent of apps are likely to work seamlessly on Linux ARM, while the other 20 percent might require some additional work.

OpenStack Foundation

As OpenStack moves beyond x86 to ARM, the governance model is also moving forward. OpenStack is now moving to a formal open source governance model and an OpenStack Foundation. Collier noted that the group is now nearly completed with all of the legal paperwork to form the foundation.

Individual member sign-ups are set to be enabled this week as well, but the formal launch of the full foundation is not expected to occur until the fall of this year, likely to coincide with the OpenStack summit in October.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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