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Rackspace Will Offload OpenStack to Independent Foundation

Looking to quell criticism that it has too much control over the OpenStack Project, Rackspace has agreed to establish an independent foundation next year that will assume ownership and governance for the open source cloud platform.

Rackspace had been under pressure to make such a move, and did so last week, announcing its intention to form the foundation during the OpenStack Conference in Boston.

"This marks a major milestone in the evolution of OpenStack as a movement to establish the industry standard for cloud software," said Mark Collier, Rackspace's VP of business and corporate development, in a blog post. "The promise of a vendor-neutral, truly open cloud standard is within reach.  By doing this important work together, as a community, we can achieve something much bigger with a lasting impact on the future of computing."

Developed by NASA and Rackspace, the two made the OpenStack code freely available under the terms of the Apache 2.0 license last year. More than 100 companies have jumped on the OpenStack bandwagon, including Canonical, Citrix, Cisco, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Intel and SuSE. Many have contributed code and have committed to developing cloud products and services based on OpenStack. While the project has grown, Rackspace's control over the effort was an ongoing concern.

The company held a meeting last Thursday to take the first step toward creating the foundation. According to the meeting notes of Scott Sanchez, director of business development for Rackspace Cloud Builders, the gathering was a session to answer questions, gather input and for the company to explain its intentions. No decisions were made regarding how the foundation will be structured or funded.

Lew Moorman, Rackspace's president and chief strategy officer told attendees that the company's motives were not to defray costs or re-assign his company's personnel to other tasks but rather to prevent OpenStack from "forking," according to the meeting notes.

One concern was the potential for the transition process to cause new member companies to delay joining, since they will want to see how the organization is structured. The issue, noted Moorman, is to "ensure long term independence for OpenStack," while not creating short-term barriers to progressing the effort.

Rackspace moved forward this week, creating a mailing list aimed at getting the discussion going. The initial discussion will revolve around determining the foundation's mission and scope, Collier noted in an updated blog post.

It appears Rackspace is taking an important step that should be welcome by the OpenStack community and future stakeholders. The challenge will be to get everyone on board with the structure and funding, neither of which is trivial, while not moving too slow that the process ends up in limbo.

What's your take on Rackspace's decision to move OpenStack to an independent foundation? Leave a comment below or drop me a line at jschwartz@1105media.com.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 10/12/2011 at 1:14 PM


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