In July, Citrix, NASA, Rackspace and a host of other companies announced that they were forming the OpenStack project. This two-pronged effort aims to construct the open-source pieces needed to provide cloud infrastructure both on the desktop for testing and in the data center for cloud hosting. Thus far, OpenStack consists of a generally available object-storage system and compute-cluster management system, which are slated for an Oct. 21 release.

Rackspace is taking on most of the work to build OpenStack, but the object-storage component of the stack is a direct software release that runs behind Rackspace Cloud’s storage system. The compute portion of OpenStack will be a combination of NASA’s Nebula project and Rackspace’s own internal software. But according to three of the men tasked with growing and maintaining this new community, it has already made thousands of code contributions in the six short weeks since the platform’s announcement.

SD Times: How did you come to choose NASA’s Nebula project for OpenStack?
Mark Collier, vice president of community and business development, OpenStack and Rackspace: The compute project started with some good code from NASA’s Nebula project. In that case, we were looking at other projects out there to see if there was something we could use, or should we release the code we had developed at Rackspace.

We discovered that this code NASA had written was very strong. They’d run into a lot of the challenges we’d seen running at scale. Where you’ll see us going with the compute project is there are a lot of people contributing in the community, but a lot of the chunks of code from Rackspace Cloud and NASA are already done. In the weeks since launch, we’ve seen a huge outpouring in the community. Citrix has been very active in providing support for Xen Server.

One of the goals we had from the beginning is to be hypervisor agnostic. That’s happened much faster than we expected. Thanks to contributions from the community, we now support KVM, Xen and VirtualBox.

Bret Piatt, senior manager of technical alliances, OpenStack and Rackspace: We’re trying to make it easy for developers to simulate and run and have a cloud on their desktop with VirtualBox.

Will Rackspace be using all of this software in its live environments?
Collier: For us (at Rackspace), we have some pretty unique challenges in terms of the scale we operate at. We are running OpenStack’s object storage on the storage side [of Rackspace Cloud]. One of the things we’re fundamentally doing at Rackspace is embracing the open-source development model for the code that’s going to run our cloud. We’re moving our entire development model toward embracing open-source for this infrastructure as a service. Where we are with storage, the code is on Launchpad today, and it is the exact same code that runs the Rackspace Cloud files.

We’ve been overwhelmed by the response thus far. Over 100 developers every day are in our IRC channel, and there have been over 1,000 code commits from the community. We only launched six weeks ago.