OpenStack is largely shepherded by Texas-based Rackspace, hence the codename for today’s third release of the open-source cloud operating system: “Cactus.” With this update come support for a broader range of hypervisors, the ability to live migrate virtual machines under KVM, and support for IPv6.

OpenStack is now made up of three central projects: OpenStack Compute, OpenStack Object Storage and OpenStack Image Services. Within the OpenStack Compute project, the Cactus release offers support for enterprise storage systems such as Solaris iSCSI and HP SAN.

Authentication and verification are additional new points of focus in Cactus: OpenStack Object Storage now has a more advanced authentication system, while OpenStack Image Service (a.k.a. Glance) can now run verification checks on virtual machine images. Glance also includes a new command-line tool for managing images.

Mark Collier, vice president of marketing and business development at OpenStack, said the future of the platform will include the integration of public and private clouds. “Up until now, the big news has been all the industry backers getting involved,” he said.

“We think this is going to be the year of deployments of OpenStack. The next big phase is going to be connecting all of these clouds. You can do some interesting hybrid scenarios. We’re seeing enterprises want to connect private clouds to public clouds for when they need that capacity.”

The world of cloud operating systems has been getting more crowded recently. With VMware’s newly released open platform-as-a-service offering, Cloud Foundry, along with the releases of, Eucalyptus, and Nimbula, 2011 has already become the year of cloud operating system launches.

But as Collier said, this is also the year of initial deployments, so while there is now a great deal of choice in cloud hosting software, the year is sure to bring new requirements and competitors as it moves along.