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Rackspace debuts private cloud packages to drive up enterprise adoption of OpenStack

Rackspace claims pre-configured hardware, software and services stack will smooth enterprise path to OpenStack-based clouds

Rackspace has moved to lower the skills barrier to enterprise adoption of OpenStack through the release of a pre-configured private cloud stack featuring the open source operating system (OS).

The infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) company’s OpenStack Everywhere offering is designed to speed up the time it takes to deploy and manage a private cloud by providing enterprises with a pre-configured hardware, software and services stack containing everything needed to set it up.

The package can be run in a private datacentre, a third-party colocation site or in Rackspace’s own facilities, and is underpinned by the firm’s managed services offerings.

Speaking to Computer Weekly, Frank Weyns, director of OpenStack International at Rackspace, said the complexities associated with using OpenStack can prove off-putting for companies.

“We have conversations with CTOs and CIOs and they tell us they like cloud computing, and they like OpenStack, but it’s the complexity they find difficult,” said Weyns.

The service provider community has emerged as a keen adopter of OpenStack, but they often find it easier than traditional enterprises to work through these challenges, he added.

“The more traditional enterprises don’t know how to handle the complexity of cloud. What they find is – if they want to handle the complexity – they need to have knowledge, and getting that inside a company is difficult,” Weyns continued.

While the release is geared towards simplifying the deployment of OpenStack-based private clouds, enterprises should still be able to take advantage of some of the customisation benefits of using the cloud OS, he added.

“The nice thing with open source software – and OpenStack in general – is that you can customise it and make it very personal, but 90% of companies don’t need that,” he said.

“The majority of them are looking for a standard configuration, a standard OpenStack that fits 90% of their needs and then they need 10% [personalisation] to integrate it into their environment.”

OpenStack skills shortages

The dearth of IT professionals with OpenStack skills is often cited as a stumbling block for enterprises wishing to join the open source cloud bandwagon. Indeed, a 451 Research report in May 2015 highlighted the cost burden associated with trying to recruit developers with experience in using it.

This theme was flagged again by Al Sadowski, a research director working in 451 Research’s service providers group, during the market watcher’s Business of Cloud, Datacentre and Hosting Summit in London on 6 April 2016.

During his presentation on OpenStack adoption trends, he said enterprise awareness of the software is gaining momentum, as the number of high-profile users of it continues to grow.

“People are talking about it and it’s getting some momentum, but it’s still early,” said Sadowski.

To reinforce this point, he talked about the relatively low number of production customer relationship management (CRM) or enterprise resource planning (ERP) workloads currently running in OpenStack-based environments.

“There are a lot of enterprises that are not ready to jump in and put things they are running into something that’s more resilient or robust [on OpenStack]. But, over time, things will move in that direction as the platform becomes more robust,” he said. “A lot of people still see it as a toolkit, rather than a product.”  

New OpenStack version drops

OpenStack was originally conceived as a joint initaitive between Rackspace and Nasa in 2010. Since then, a number of suppliers have moved to throw their weight behind the initiative and support its development by contributing code.

The latest result of that continued effort is the arrival of Mitaka, the 13th iteration of OpenStack to be released through the collaborative efforts of its 2,300-strong developer community, which was announced on 7 April 2016. 

According to the OpenStack Foundation, Mitaka has been designed to address a number of manageability, scalability and user experience issues, as part of its ongoing work to bolster the enterprise-readiness of the software.

Kamesh Pemmaraju, vice-president of product marketing at OpenStack distribution provider Mirantis, said the release marks the removal of several hoops users previously had to jump through during service configuration.

To reinforce this point, he flagged the fact Nova – an OpenStack feature that provides self-service access to compute resources – is now noticeably easier to configure. The same applies to its “networking as a service” offering, Neutron.

“What used to take several steps to create a network in Neutron, for example, has been reduced to a single command. It is also a lot easier to configure Nova or to setup Keystone,” he said.

“With the addition of better live migration capabilities in Nova and improvement in Cinder resiliency, Mitaka provides higher availability and reliability features that enterprise workloads require.”

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