The OpenStack project went public with its “Diablo” release late last month, even as cloud-computing companies bring their own commercial distributions of the open-source cloud operating system to market.

Jonathan Bryce is chairman of the OpenStack project policy board and Devin Carlen is a project leader, and both are part of the companies now hoping to derive value from the project. Bryce works at Rackspace, which uses OpenStack components to host its public cloud. Carlen is a cofounder of Nebula, a company seeking to productize OpenStack.

They’re joining a group of startups and existing software companies that will be bringing their own distributions of this open-source cloud operating system to market later this year.

Commercializing OpenStack
At the core of this newfound rush to commercialize OpenStack are the complaints many companies have had about the platform since it was created. Josh McKenty, founder of Piston Cloud Computing and one of the original authors of OpenStack Compute at NASA, said that his company made inroads with the government by offering a security layer inside of OpenStack.

McKenty said that many government organizations and enterprises have been looking for a way to use OpenStack, but existing security and compliance requirements were making that proposition difficult. While he was at NASA, working on the Nebula project that became OpenStack Compute, he said that the security work done on the project could not be open-sourced.

“At NASA, it was the first cloud environment ever certified under FISMA [Federal Information Security Management Act] because of the work we put into making it secure. Unfortunately, we couldn’t open-source that. The government still believes in security by obscurity,” said McKenty.

Thus Piston Cloud Computing offers these security enhancements on a commercial basis. The primary source of these enhancements is the new Linux distribution used underneath. McKenty said that Piston Cloud Computing created its own Linux distribution for this product; its version is stripped of all non-essential elements for the running of OpenStack.

OpenStack isn’t just forming the basis for commercial distribution companies. It’s also gathering support from traditional enterprise software vendors who are looking at ways to support private clouds. ServiceMesh, a cloud unification and governance platform company, announced in late September that it had begun to support its platform on OpenStack.

About Alex Handy

Alex Handy is the Senior Editor of Software Development Times.