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May 23, 2012

NASA to Stop OpenStack Development

Robert Gelber

Last week, NASA revealed that it would no longer participate in OpenStack development. The news, which was reported in Datacenter Dynamics, comes nearly two years after the platform was officially announced.

NASA hole punch cloudsThe project began as both NASA and Rackspace were separately developing similar cloud architectures. When the groups were made aware of each other’s efforts, they joined forces to develop a single open source platform.

Karen Petraska, service executive for computing services at NASA’s CIO office made the official announcement at the Uptime Institute’s Symposium. She pointed to the growing commercial adoption of OpenStack as the main driver for the change.

Spending resources on development of commercial technology solutions was not the government’s role, Petraska explained after her presentation.

All government agencies are receiving pressure to cut expenses, forcing them to locate expendable projects. Instead of spending time and money developing a commercially available platform, NASA would rather become a consumer of the service. This strategy has also triggered the organization to stop development of Nebula. Nebula is an infrastructure that was created alongside the OpenStack and delivered cloud services to NASA.

Currently, the project is thriving as contributors are using the platform for their own purposes. AT&T, an OpenStack supporter, has used the platform to support their private cloud, which exists on three datacenters in the US. The project has also been incorporated into a number of commercial distributions. Both Dell and Rackspace are offering cloud services based on OpenStack.

Recently, Rackspace announced it would ramp up development of OpenStack in an effort to improve its offerings and gain more revenue. This came after the platform’s latest version, named Essex, was released. The update was a result of contributions made from 200 developers and includes 150 new features.

Although the project is losing a founding member, the move is rather symbolic. Since its initial release, OpenStack has been supported by large industry players like Dell, HP, IBM, Yahoo!, Cisco and Microsoft. With all this help from the private sector, the platform no longer requires help from the government.