RightScale And Rackspace Partnership Signals Turning Point In Battle For OpenStack Commercial Market Share

This week, RightScale made two important announcements related to OpenStack. First, the Santa Barbara-based cloud management company announced it will become a corporate sponsor of the OpenStack Foundation. Because RightScale has delivered cloud management support for OpenStack-based private and hybrid clouds for years, it stands well poised to differentiate itself as a cloud management provider that can “seamlessly integrate” with OpenStack due to its extensive history of involvement with the OpenStack community. Mark Collier, Chief Operating Officer of the OpenStack Foundation, pointed to RightScale’s experience with large enterprises and the importance of the availability of cloud management products for OpenStack deployments:

RightScale’s support of the OpenStack Foundation and involvement in the community are very important to OpenStack users, who expect the cloud management tools they use today to seamlessly integrate with OpenStack. RightScale brings a lot of experience working with large enterprises, and can contribute that valuable insight to the community.

Bailey Caldwell, VP of Business Development at RightScale, noted that the corporate sponsor relationship provided opportunities for RightScale to assist with large-scale OpenStack deployments as well as to receive product-related feedback that would help the company enhance its cloud management platform:

The OpenStack foundation is a robust group of members and companies. We’re excited to expand our participation in the community by becoming a Corporate Sponsor. We look forward to sharing our experience of deploying and managing applications on the cloud at scale, as well as the valuable feedback we’ll receive from other members of the Foundation.

RightScale’s deepened relationship with OpenStack as a corporate sponsor empowers it to position itself as the de facto cloud management vendor of choice for the OpenStack community, although it stands to face fierce competition from the likes of Puppet and Opscode, both of which have significant experience delivering cloud management infrastructures to the OpenStack platform themselves.

Meanwhile, just as it pledged support for OpenStack in general, RightScale and Rackspace jointly announced an agreement to integrate RightScale’s cloud management platform into the Rackspace Open Cloud, which is based on OpenStack. RightScale’s CEO, Michael Crandell, commented that the choice of Rackspace as an OpenStack partner “minimizes proprietary extensions” to the “trunk code base” that third party OpenStack vendors may impose on the core OpenStack product. Here, Crandell suggests that other commercial purveyors of OpenStack were more likely than Rackspace to customize the OpenStack core code in ways that rendered it less portable and interoperable than the allegedly purer, Rackspace version.

The Rackspace blog trumped up the partnership with RightScale as another step on the road to a cloud landscape free of vendor lock-in and commitments to proprietary cloud platforms:

The pairing between Rackspace and RightScale is another step in the fight against vendor lock-in. With the launches of our new cloud products this year like Cloud Block Storage, Cloud Networks andCloud Databases, RightScale users now have a broader selection of cloud alternatives and we believe they’ll be looking at Rackspace. The deep product integration will also include the OpenStack-powered Rackspace Private Cloud, which lets users deploy a Rackspace cloud in their data center of choice — be it their own data center, a colo facility or in one of Rackspace’s global data centers.

The integration of RightScale with Rackspace empowers users to transport or disperse applications between the Rackspace public cloud, an on premise Rackspace private cloud or a private cloud hosted by Rackspace. Customers can now create hybrid cloud infrastructures by deploying applications to public and private cloud environments alike, all from within a “single pane of glass” as signified by the RightScale platform. Creating a failsafe infrastructure marked by the availability of applications in public and private cloud environments has never been easier for Rackspace customers.

The partnership represents a huge coup for both RightScale and Rackspace, both of whom stand to synergistically gain from the pairing of cloud management and an enterprise-grade OpenStack platform. Rackspace, in particular, stands to profit from the partnership given that RightScale has expressly recommended Rackspace to its customers. After all, the very title of RightScale’s press release about the partnership reads “RightScale Recommends Rackspace to Customers for OpenStack-Powered Clouds.” The agreement signals an intensification for market share amongst the crop of private vendors that have commercialized OpenStack and is likely to prefigure other partnerships that enable commercial OpenStack vendors to claim a competitive advantage over each other.