Rackspace launched a kit that will make it possible for organizations to launch private clouds based on OpenStack and still receive support from the company.

The Rackspace Cloud: Private Edition is a package that businesses can use to set up an OpenStack-based private cloud outside of the Rackspace environment, the hosting provider said Nov. 7. The company will sell services to run the private cloud and provide customers with its “fanatical support,” Jim Curry, general manager of Rackspace Cloud Builders, told eWEEK.

The package includes hardware, software and support. To qualify for Rackspace support, the organization must deploy the current “Diablo” release of the OpenStack software with specific features enabled and run the Rackspace reference architecture, which includes hardware, system configuration and networking requirements , Curry said.

“We’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t work” when building out OpenStack clouds, Curry said.

The initial reference architecture is based on Dell PowerEdge servers, PowerVault storage and Cisco Catalyst and Nexus switches, because that is what Rackspace uses and is the most familiar with, according to Curry. The roadmap is evolving and Rackspace will certify other types of equipment over time.

Rackspace is “very involved” with the Open Compute Project and future versions of the reference architecture would likely include Open Compute-approved hardware, Curry said.

Facebook launched the Open Compute Project in April after building a highly efficient data center in Prineville, Ore. Rackspace was one of the original founding companies, according to Curry. Under the auspices of the Open Compute Project, Facebook published some of specifications and designs of the hardware developed for Prineville. The aim was to encourage collaboration in designing hardware and systems efficient enough for large and powerful Web data centers by a adopting the model used in open-source software development.

“OpenStack and Open Compute is a really interesting combination,” Curry said.

OpenStack is a cloud operating system intended to remove vendor lock-in within the cloud and was jointly launched a little over a year ago by Rackspace and NASA. The OpenStack cloud operating system is open source and readily available. The reference architecture will also be made public.

Curry acknowledged that enterprises can launch OpenStack cloud on the reference architecture on their own, but said those businesses wouldn’t receive any support unless they buy the package. Rackspace is making technology “a commodity” with the Private Edition, according to Curry.

Rackspace will support enterprises that use Private Edition to run private clouds in an internal data center, with Rackspace, or with a different hosting provider, Curry said. Once the required hardware and software has been deployed, Rackspace will support cloud maintenance, pushing out updates to the OpenStack operating system and responding to customer issues, according to Curry.

“This is a first step for Rackspace, providing support outside our data centers,” Curry said.

Rackspace expects to use the same tools and support team that customers see on the hosting and public cloud side. The goal is to provide a “seamless support experience across products,” according to Curry.

Rackspace has also compiled a list of system integrators and consulting companies that it will recommend customers use for help with installing their OpenStack clouds. Rackspace has given these companies the reference architecture and some training on the kinds of deployments Rackspace will support. “We don’t want to deal with setting up the cloud,” Curry said, but to focus on support afterwards.

In a separate announcement on Nov. 8, Rackspace updated its RackConnect service with automation capabilities to let users add cloud servers more easily. The free service allows enterprises to connect its hosting environment with the public cloud to create a hybrid environment. For example, with RackConnect businesses can scale out with public cloud servers to support spikes in traffic.

Customers with Rackspace Cloud: Private Edition within a Rackspace datacenter can use RackConnect to connect to the public Rackspace cloud, Toby Owen, senior manager of hybrid cloud product solutions at Rackspace, told eWEEK.

Rackspace Cloud: Private Edition is about going inside the customer environment and partner data centers, while RackSpace is about creating more possibilities to connect dedicated compute and cloud resources, Owen said.

While it is possible there will be features added to create RackConnect-like capabilities for the private cloud in the future, Curry said there was nothing to discuss at this time.

To read the original eWeek article, click here: Rackspace to Support OpenStack-Based Private Clouds