Copyright (c) 123RF Stock PhotosThree years ago, OpenStack was just another of thousands of open-source projects with a small team attached to it. Unlike most projects, however, OpenStack just wrapped up its first enterprise-level public forum with attendees that included IBM, eBay, PayPal, Rackspace, and Best Buy.

This open-source alternative to locked-down commercial cloud hosting ventures is gaining momentum quickly, as more businesses seek cloud solutions that they can truly control.

The Search for Private Cloud Hosting

Three years ago, the private/ business cloud world was effectively locked down by Amazon and a handful of other companies. The only cloud hosts were those firms that already had the infrastructure in place to support large-scale ventures.

This gave them an early lead in the cloud hosting marketplace despite the worries many businesses had with trusting their data to another company. There simply wasn't an option for hosting it themselves.
That led to the creation of OpenStack, the open-source operating system for cloud hosting services.

OpenStack gives companies the ability to directly implement and control their own cloud deployment in-house. This power and flexibility makes it highly attractive to an increasing number of businesses who remain leery of offsite public cloud hosting.

At this time, deployment of OpenStack is still quite technical and requires an experienced IT staff. This was discussed several times during the forum, and, as OpenStack grows, its user-friendliness will undoubtedly grow with it.

The Rapid Growth of OpenStack

Like most open-source projects, the first years of OpenStack were a bit rocky, but the promise it offered of robust private cloud hosting comparable to Amazon's lured in plenty of early interest. With firms like IBM and RackSpace contributing, it quickly gained momentum.

That momentum is what interested visitors at the OpenStack Enterprise Forum. Currently, the licensing for hosted or virtualized software can cost more than the servers running it. This can create another barrier for companies looking to move into cloud services.

However, as the OpenStack install base continues to grow, those sorts of licensing fees are only going to bring skepticism over whether they're actually worth the cost. Accordingly, OpenStack is looking to the future and the addition of more virtualization services. Its virtualization prospects were hot topics at the recent Forum.

In the meantime, the OpenStack Foundation has grown to include 200 members, and major firms are investing in OpenStack-based solutions. PayPal and eBay now run OpenStack to maintain their own operations. Best Buy has invested in it for employee solutions. Even some of Comcast's operations now run on an OpenStack implementation.

The Future Of OpenStack

At this point, the momentum behind OpenStack is nearly undeniable. So many significant investments from major firms that have expertise to contribute to the project will bring an even more-rapid increase in the system's scale, reliability, and ease-of-use.

As more firms look to cloud solutions and begin to balk at the software costs, OpenStack will be providing an alternative that combines total internal control with significantly lowered ongoing operating costs.
When the alternative is handing over data to firms with questionable security, OpenStack will let businesses keep everything under their own control.