Review: What is OpenStack?

Review: What is OpenStack?

Even The Beatles openly admitted to getting by with a little help from their friends. There’s no shame in saying you can’t do something on your own, and in an increasingly virtual world, there’s fewer and fewer reasons to go it alone. Collaboration and sharing is the next frontier of information technology, and many companies are working tirelessly to bring the benefits of this teamwork to businesses and consumers around the world.

One such technology is an Infrastructure as a Service cloud computing project known as OpenStack. The project began through collaboration between Rackspace and NASA that has developed and expanded to include more than 150 companies. Its ultimate aim is to enrich the value and quality of both public and private cloud computing services by creating a free, shared cloud space offering virtually unlimited space ripe for development.

What is OpenStack?

OpenStack is an open-source cloud computing project, which means that anyone can contribute to its development and benefit from the end results of that collaboration. A more visible example of a large-scale open-source project is Wikipedia, which was developed by a large group of enthusiastic page writers and developers. Today it continues to be managed on a voluntary basis, providing a comprehensive and constantly updated encyclopedia of information to anyone, and at no charge.

OpenStack provides a similar service in the cloud computing world, aiming to provide cloud users with an enormous range of software, applications and tools. OpenStack is also feature-rich and highly scalable for individual users regardless of whether they are operating on the public or private clouds. Think of it as a virtual quilt, patching together a variety of different computer solutions and cloud-based tech developments to provide a much larger buffet of services and solutions to users.

To whom is OpenStack relevant?

In addition to the companies and developers helping create OpenStack, all of whom will likely benefit from the software community in some sense, several types of businesses will be able to utilize OpenStack to improve their own operations and services. Some of these business types include service providers, researchers, VARs, SMBs, major corporations and data collection centers.

Why does it matter?

Software development is highly competitive, and sometimes the race to beat out rivals is won at the expense of progress. By working together, businesses and developers can develop consistency and standards in the still-young field of cloud computing. An effective, large-scale cloud computing system relies on compatibility between various companies and the software they develop so that users can move seamlessly from one software solution to another in an accessible virtual ecosystem.

As such, all of the code used to develop OpenStack is free and accessible under an Apache 2.0 license. Developer involvement is encouraged by an open system allowing anyone to use OpenStack, build new features within it, and/or submit proposed changes to the system.

With the online world — and many businesses — turning effort toward transitioning to computing as a service and, consequently, cloud computing services, greater development of this wild frontier is needed. OpenStack is the most significant such attempt to do so, and, because so many major tech companies have already committed themselves to the project, its relevance to cloud computing will only grow over time.