Is OpenStack Hosting For Me?

OpenStack Hosting

Cloud computing is becoming more well-known these days, giving rise to the cloud hosting company. It provides cheap web space hosting, keeping more profit in the small businessman's pocket, over the large web hosting providers.

openstackThe true question weighing on the minds of the traditional hosting companies: will cloud hosting take over, making traditional hosting methods obsolete? Probably not, but it is a frightening possibility. As with all segments of the technology world, things change rapidly and businesses must change along with them in order to remain competitive.


How does a hosting company offer cloud-based cheap web space hosting more easily? Enter OpenStack, the open source software that helps take care of the IaaS details and controls resources for suitable distribution. It helps websites continue to run despite the number of visitors it sees, putting an end to dreaded downtime due to excess web traffic.

OpenStack was created by Rack-space Hosting and NASA in July 2010, and has grown its number of supporters and developer partners significantly since then. What big names are a part of OpenStack? How about Intel, VMware, HP, AMD, and IBM, a little over 150 companies in all, all over the world.

There are numerous technologies working together to manage storage, processing power, and other resources that are accessed and manipulated through a web interface by administrators and users. The functions and controls vary by account type. OpenStack's mission: bring a “simple to implement and massively scalable” cloud solution to any size public or private business through its open source platform.

Who Can Use OpenStack?

It's really limitless. Service providers, VARS, researchers, SMBs, corporations, and data centers can all find usefulness in the OpenStack platform. Private or public cloud, it doesn't matter. Ideally, you would be deploying large-scale using your own hardware, or you are a company whose data cannot be stored publicly.

As long as you have an IT team that knows their stuff, or a hosting provider for that matter, you're good to go. It is highly technical, and the code used is not part of any hardware or OS.

OpenStack Hosting

It's a safe bet that if you are a small business, you aren't quite ready to bring this to your company just yet. With the technical knowledge you need to keep it running, you probably wouldn't know where to begin.

However, it's something that hosting providers should be all over. OpenStack deployment will be interoperable and hosting providers linked to one another, meaning that the cloud infrastructure one hosting provider is using might be used by another at some point when the demand increases.

This is a big deal, and will likely bring cloud computing to places it never existed before. Think about it: there are big corporations locked in contracts with large telecommunications companies that they are perfectly happy with, companies they place a large amount of trust in to host their data. If those large telecommunications companies were to start offering cloud services, they would be more apt to try it out as they are trusted.

Large corporations with their own experienced IT department and hosting providers will likely find tremendous value in OpenStack infrastructure. Have you considered choosing a cheap web space hosting company because they rely on OpenStack infrastructure? Are you a hosting company looking to deploy an OpenStack infrastructure yourself?

*Photo courtesy of “Victor Habbick” via FreeDigitalPhotos

OpenStack Issues?

OpenStack Issues

The Open-stack Foundation is warning those purporting to be Open-stack service providers that they'd better be interoperable. Otherwise, they might be in a bit of trouble. If you have cheap domain web hosting with Rack-space and it's Open-stack-powered, you might want to pay attention.

The Lowdown

openstack cloud software OpenStack IssuesThe foundation has already named two companies they're looking into false Open-stack cloud claims, Rack-space and HP. Open Stack Foundation board member and CTO of Piston Josh McKenty said, “Neither of their public clouds could be called Open-stack under current interoperability guidelines…They're basically not interoperable.”

An interoperability working group was “re-fired up” at the last Open Stack board meeting in an effort to assure cheap domain web hosting providers offering Open Stack cloud hosting pass the Open Stack test to avoid fragmentation problems.

McKenty says providers have some time to comply: “Don't expect teeth in that policy until Havana,” the next version of OpenStack.

What Makes A Service Open Stack?

Right now, in order for a cheap domain web hosting provider to offer an Open Stack cloud service, Nova and Swift must be implemented. These are the compute and storage functionalities of Open Stack. However, implementing these two functions don't totally ensure interoperability — there are no directives in place that require service providers to implement specific APIs.

McKenty is heading up a new project at OpenStack in order to improve the interoperability issue. Although the OpenStack community is supportive of the project, there has been no official vote as of yet to make it official.

What Is The New Project?

It's called Refstack, currently in development, a reference implementation of OpenStack that providers can use as a benchmark. OpenStack also plans to develop automated testing allowing providers to test the services they offer against Refstack, resulting in a compliance scorecard.

While everyone is waiting for the development of Refstack, a large number of OpenStack cloud services that are technically following the current interoperability guidelines aren't exactly easily interoperable.

“The question of interoperability is a tricky one to draw a line on,” said McKenty. If standards are low, a user could create a virtual machine and find out what the IP address is, and “every public OpenStack cloud is interoperable in that sense,” he said. If you then attempt to use third party tools like CloudEnvy, built for use with OpenStack, you might find they don't work unless you use libraries developed specifically addressing the differences in the service. The OpenStack Foundation wants to negate the need for libraries used to make OpenStack and related services play nice together.

“The reason I'm so concerned with interoperability, and this may be more of my personal passion than a rational view of the ecosystem, is I don't believe we'll have just a handful of OpenStack clouds,” said McKenty. His vision is tens of thousands of OpenStack clouds, meaning an interoperability solution is critically necessary.

OpenStack Issues: How HP And Rackspace Responded

If you rely on Rackspace to provide your cheap domain web hosting, you'll be happy to hear they plan to be completely interoperable by the end of 2013. Troy Toman, the director of cloud compute engineering for the company said in a blog post, “While we believe some variation in implementations will be inevitable, we do want to eliminate as many of these as possible to provide as much of a common OpenStack experience as we can.”

HP, on the other hand, isn't as forthcoming. They deny that they are not interoperable, saying to IT World, “HP Cloud Services adheres to OpenStack's interoperability guidelines. We are committed to OpenStack and are compatible with OpenStack APIs. In addition, we have a policy of not introducing proprietary API extensions. HP is supporting core OpenStack APIs and we have not added our own proprietary API extensions, therefore this ensures our interoperability with other OpenStack deployments.”

A company representative said the company feels it is important to “add some level of your own innovation to create products that” are distinguished from other OpenStack clouds. This representative, vice president of product marketing and cloud evangelist for HP Cloud Services Margaret Dawson, assures that HP has remained true to the APIs and code base to allow integration with other parts of the stack.

Do you rely on OpenStack cloud services from your cheap domain web hosting provider? Does this issue concern you?