OpenStack was founded back in 2010 with backing from Rackspace, NASA and others. It was developed as an open source alternative to the growing hegemony of Amazon Web Services. As good as AWS's offering was, it was essentially a black box controlled by Amazon—and many craved for a more transparent alternative.
OpenStack celebrated its fifth birthday just last month and it's been growing in leaps and bounds as five year olds tend to do. It boasts almost 30,000 members in 172 countries. It has the backing of 531 organizations including technology giants like IBM, Oracle, HP, Cisco, Microsoft, and many others.
For a project so young, it has built a vibrant community remarkably quickly, but it still lacks the total package and has yet to be implemented across a large company's entire infrastructure. For the most part, it is a series of smaller project experiments and proofs of concept. There's nothing inherently wrong with this given its age, but it needs a push to get to that next level.
Investment from Intel and Goldman Sachs
Just this week, OpenStack got some big attention when Intel and Goldman Sachs were among the contributors to a $100 million investment in Mirantis, a startup that offers what it calls a 'pure version' of OpenStack. Included in those funds was a $25 million partnership with Intel to help advance OpenStack in the enterprise. It's part of a broader strategy by Intel to support cloud computing.
Intel is putting its money where its mouth is. Mirantis is not the only OpenStack company it's backing. Just last month it announced a deal with Rackspace to create an 'OpenStack Innovation Center' inside Rackspace's Austin headquarters.
While it's not clear just how much Goldman Sachs contributed to the Mirantis funding, Mirantis president Alex Freedland said the investment firm got involved because it's using OpenStack and is what he calls "savvy open source consumers."
This kind of backing from two organizations with their level of pedigree could give OpenStack a big boost and help it advance to the next level. For all it's popularity, OpenStack still lacks spit and polish and users complain that it's difficult to deploy and manage.
Some companies have tried to address this by building OpenStack appliances, but these are still early attempts. Intel and others are hoping that by throwing more money at the project it can accelerate the growth process and push the project along faster.
It's unclear whether money alone can solve the problem, but having friends in high places, as OpenStack clearly has, can only help the project as it pushes toward maturity.