Virtualization continues to be an important technology and foundation for cloud. However, the hypervisor is commoditizing, and the virtualization market today is moving to a layer of software above the hypervisor called cloud system software. While a hypervisor abstracts the resources of a single server, cloud system software abstracts across large pools of compute, storage, and networking. These resources are wrapped into cloud APIs, managed in an automated fashion, and made available through Web portals. Cloud providers have used this approach to build their public clouds, and now this type of software is becoming widely available in the market for enterprises to deploy on premises and create infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) private clouds.
OpenStack is an open source cloud system software project that has broad participation from the IT industry. OpenStack consists of several core modules and has established a process to incubate and develop new modules that can extend functionality. One of the main goals of being an open cloud system is interoperability, with the idea that clouds built on OpenStack should have a reasonable level of portability between them.
Because OpenStack is open source, the inner workings of an OpenStack cloud and its APIs are fully transparent and anyone can participate in the development process if they choose to. As with previous open source projects such as Linux, OpenStack is becoming available in a wide range of forms. It is used by service providers to produce finished cloud services, embedded into appliances and converged infrastructure, as well as developed into commercially supported software offerings. With tremendous momentum and industry backing, OpenStack is poised to become a major factor in the emerging cloud system software market. Drawing on its experience and methodology with enterprise Linux, Red Hat is bringing to market a commercially supported and tested version of OpenStack, which will target customers that want an enterprise-ready distribution of OpenStack.