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OpenStack Foundation Sets Sail With IBM and Red Hat on Board

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After months of planning, the OpenStack Foundation is starting to take shape. This week, OpenStack announced 19 companies that will serve as Gold and Platinum members in its Foundation. Platinum members will provide OpenStack with financial support on the order of $500,000/year, for three years. Gold members will contribute .025% of their company revenue per year, assuming an expected minimum contribution of $50,000 and a maximum of $200,000. Platinum members will also provide "operational resources" to the Foundation such as two full time equivalent employees.

The nineteen Gold and Platinum members are:

• Platinum: AT&T, Canonical, HP, IBM, Nebula, Rackspace, Red Hat, SUSE
• Gold: Cisco, ClearPath, Cloudscaling, Dell, DreamHost, ITRI, Mirantis, Morphlabs, NetApp, Piston Cloud Computing, Yahoo!

This is clearly an impressive roster, featuring one of the world's leading telcos in the form of AT&T, founder Rackspace, provider of one of the world's largest public clouds, IBM, Red Hat, HP and Canonical that need no introduction, and exciting startups such as Nebula and Piston Cloud Computing. The foundation's mission is to "make OpenStack the ubiquitous cloud operating system" and "ensure interoperability among OpenStack clouds" given the larger goal of "protecting, empowering, and promoting OpenStack software and the community around it."

Making OpenStack into the "ubiquitous cloud operating system" may sound like a lofty goal indeed, but this means the Foundation and its constituent members have set their sights high and placed their bets squarely on OpenStack's success. Moreover, despite the oligarchic structure of a foundation that requires a significant capital investment to earn the Platinum or Gold designation, development activities will be structured by "an open development process that is driven by technical meritocracy." Importantly, the Foundation now has the official support of IBM and Red Hat, the latter of which represents a crucial addition because of its wealth of experience building and commercializing open-source software solutions.

OpenStack is now supported by a whopping 166 companies. Undergirded by an impressively transparent governance structure and financed by 19 of the world's leading technology companies, OpenStack's ship has more than set sail. The key question now is how OpenStack as a cloud operating system will perform over a sustained period of time across enterprise deployments. Other questions about cloud APIs, versions and inter-operability will surely crop up soon, too, but the fundamental question around OpenStack today concerns its ability to demonstrate its readiness for enterprise-grade cloud computing and prove it is commensurate with, if not superior to Amazon Web Services and CloudStack. Expect to hear tons more OpenStack news at this week's 2012 OpenStack Design Summit in San Francisco.

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