What is the OpenStack Foundation? Open source Cloud Computing

OpenStack’s push for an increased focus on open-source cloud computing

When you think about influence in the software development world it’s hard to imagine anything more powerful than a popular open-source project. In the same way that crowdsourcing and crowdfunding have allowed large projects to get off the ground, open-source software development provides the catalyst for bringing hundreds, if not thousands of individual contributors to a venture. Why is this important, you might ask? Surely you’ve heard the old saying that “two heads are better than one”; well, 200 heads are better than 10.  Open source Cloud Computing

The OpenStack Foundation is big-time cloud provider OpenStack’s ongoing attempt at creating what might be considered better cloud computing components. The foundation itself features an elected / appointed board of directors, a tech committee as well as an enormous user committee (consisting of around 5600 individual members).

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Each individual software project is led by elected tech leads. Their purpose is to provide oversight into all individual aspects of each software development project, of course. Just as important (if not more so) is the board of directions, who essentially deal with ensuring that everything is running smoothly and that there are financial resources available when needed. Lastly, you have the “engine” for the Open-source project, which is the user committee. As previously stated, this group consists of around 5600 individuals culled from 850 organizations, each having their own unique areas of expertise. Likewise, individual contributions are just as welcome as those emanating from well-known businesses; the only thing that truly matters is that some form of forward progress is achieved.

Then of course you have the financial benefit of open source development. Because larger open-source projects are really just collaborative efforts put together by organizations or individuals associated with certain businesses, we’re really talking about something that’s being carried out for the benefit of all. In other words, businesses can use the power of the community to even help design software / cloud components which might greatly benefit their own operations. The caveat of course being that they have to share the finished product with everyone else, which some people might find unpleasant. In fact, some open-source projects are actually able to help drive certain markets up because they reinforce both collaboration and competition in some strange way.  

From a philosophical point-of-view, open-source development of cloud computing software is perfectly suited to the very nature of cloud computing itself, if you think about it. After all, any form of cloud computing (whether it is a bulk of centralized resources or multiple machines being leveraged together simultaneously) is based off of the notion of shared resources. Additionally, each time a new groundbreaking cloud app or service is created, it is imperative that the technology driving it is disseminated among the community as well; if only to increase the speed with which all future developments might occur. For example, if some company develops a better approach to cloud security, isn’t it in their best interests to share this basic concept and design with others? I doing so they are opening the door for other organizations to improve upon it and perhaps even shut down malevolent forces before they even gain a chance to engage in hostile activities.

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Simply put, the amount of money, time and effort required to create software through independent development that’s comparable with a large open-source operation (like the Openstack Foundation) might be considered out-of-reach by most companies. It’s an interesting trade-off when you think about it – shared development for a shared finished product. Certainly this model is vastly superior to all others in a number of key ways, especially for those organizations that are interested in cloud software development for direct business use.

The Openstack Foundation is also helping to bring the international community together as well. Currently, there are businesses and individuals from 87 countries participating in the project; certainly if can be called a stunning success from a cooperative point-of-view. Perhaps it’s only fitting that NASA was one of the groups that initiated this project, given its universal nature. Regardless of who was responsible for starting the Openstack Foundation, now it has some of the biggest financial and technical backers on the planet (including Intel, AMD, HP, IBM, and Cisco). The list of those who are helping to make this a successful project reads like a veritable “who’s who” of tech companies, don’t you think? In the end, the net result of all this group participation is going to be an ongoing list of incredible achievements which could not have occurred without input from multiple firms and minds. In some ways, the Openstack Foundation is a testament to the indomitable nature of mankind and the incredible things which can be achieved through collaboration and cooperation.

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