Introducing OpenStack

In the world of cloud computing, the name OpenStack stands out prominently. Some call it the king of the cloud and it’s currently a hot topic since more and more companies are looking for exit plans to migrate away from VMware and OpenStack comes in as a great alternative.

OpenStack was born out of the collaborative efforts of industry giants like NASA and Rackspace back in 2010. Since then it has become a leading open-source cloud platform, empowering organizations with unprecedented flexibility, scalability, and control over their IT infrastructure.

In this series of blog posts about OpenStack we will cover the fundamentals of OpenStack, explore its origins, evolution, and the pivotal role it plays in shaping the future of cloud computing today.

Brief History

The story of OpenStack begins in 2010 when NASA, in need of a scalable infrastructure to support its scientific research projects, joined forces with Rackspace, a leading cloud hosting provider. Together, they set out to develop an open-source cloud computing platform that would rival proprietary solutions and foster innovation in the cloud industry.

At the time NASA and Rackspace were both doing similar things, Rackspace was building compute and networking components and NASA was building storage components. Despite never having worked together before they both had chosen the same languages, same frameworks, had the same design architecture and were even using the same networking hardware. A few weeks later OpenStack was born.

The inaugural release of OpenStack, code-named “Austin,” marked the dawn of a new era in cloud computing. Since then, OpenStack has undergone rapid development and garnered widespread adoption, fueled by an ever-growing community of developers, contributors, and users worldwide.

What is OpenStack?

At its core, OpenStack is a collection of open-source software modules that work together to orchestrate and manage cloud infrastructure resources such as servers, storage appliances, switches and more.

It is a data center operating system that offers a variety of services that go from compute and storage to networking and identity management, and allow you to build and operate private, public, and hybrid clouds with ease. These resources are controlled throughout a datacenter and are managed and provisioned via APIs with common authentication mechanisms.

OpenStack pools provisions and manages compute, storage and network resources, delivering  infrastructure as a service functionality. It’s one of the many open source technologies that help IT teams create and manage cloud workloads, and is often seen as an alternative to hyperscale cloud platforms (such as Google, AWS and Azure)

An accessible dashboard is provided, offering administrators full control while enabling users to provision resources via a user-friendly web interface.

Key Components of OpenStack:

  • Keystone (Identity): Provides authentication and authorization services, ensuring secure access to OpenStack resources.
  • Nova (Compute): Provides on-demand virtual servers and manages the compute resources of the cloud.
  • Cinder (Block Storage): Delivers persistent block storage volumes to virtual machines.
  • Neutron (Networking): Facilitates the creation and management of network resources, enabling connectivity between virtual machines and external networks.
  • Glance (Image Service): Manages virtual machine images, enabling users to create, share, and deploy cloud instances.
  • Swift (Object Storage): Offers highly scalable and redundant object storage for unstructured data.

Importance in Cloud Computing

OpenStack plays a significant role in cloud computing. Due to its open-source nature, it not only allows but empowers organizations of all sizes to build and manage cloud infrastructure on their terms.

OpenStack is trusted to manage large amounts of data and resources and although it is used by numerous organizations that go from small startups to large corporations, it is most popular in industries that require high levels of data security such as healthcare and finance.

Institutions like CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, rely on OpenStack to manage massive volumes of data generated by their experiments, showcasing its capability to handle high-performance computing workloads. Meanwhile, global enterprises such as Walmart, Ericsson, and SAP leverage OpenStack to power their infrastructure, demonstrating its versatility and scalability in supporting mission-critical applications and services. 

Walmart, for instance, has more than 170,000 cores running on OpenStack which allows its 80 million monthly online customers to have a seamless experience when visiting their website.

Openstack  offers a flexible and open-source alternative to proprietary cloud solutions and provides the foundation for innovation and growth by helping companies accelerate software development, enhance IT agility and drive digital transformation initiatives.

Key Benefits of OpenStack:

  • Flexibility: Its modular architecture allows users to customize and scale cloud infrastructure according to their specific requirements.
  • Scalability: The support for horizontal scaling and distributed architecture, makes it possible for OpenStack to accommodate the dynamic needs of modern cloud workloads. The smallest OpenStack cloud might only have a few nodes, whereas the largest OpenStack installations today manage thousands and tens of thousand hypervisors.
  • Interoperability: OpenStack fosters interoperability and vendor neutrality, enabling integration with a wide range of third-party technologies and tools.
  • Cost Savings: OpenStack is a cost-effective alternative to proprietary cloud solutions, it leverages commodity hardware and open-source software, minimizing vendor lock-in and reducing operating expenses.


OpenStack represents a paradigm shift in cloud computing, democratizing access to cloud infrastructure and fostering innovation in the digital age. From its humble beginnings as a collaborative project between NASA and Rackspace to its current status as a leading open-source cloud platform, OpenStack continues to push the boundaries of what’s possible in the cloud.

In the upcoming posts, we’ll delve deeper into the inner workings of OpenStack, exploring its core components, deployment strategies, use cases, and best practices. Join us on this journey and stay tuned as we unravel the mysteries of OpenStack.

If you are considering OpenStack to build your cloud infrastructure or as an alternative to VMware, we got you! Our team of experts is ready to guide you every step of the way! Give us a call today!