On July 19th, 2010, the CTO of NASA joined with Rackspace to announce a new effort, known as OpenStack.
Three years later, OpenStack is much more than just Rackspace and NASA. Today OpenStack is supported by 231 member companies, including some of the biggest names in technology with HP, IBM, Dell, Cisco, Intel, AT&T and Comcast.
The OpenStack project started out with just two core pieces, the Nova compute project from NASA with 9,000 lines of code and the Swift object storage platform, which had 20,000 lines of code. Over the last three years, the project has added new projects, including the Horizon dashboard, the Glance image storage service, the Keystone identity service and the Quantum networking service, among others. In total, the project has well over 600,000 lines of code today.
On the Rackspace side, one of the key leaders from the early days of the effort onward has been Jonathan Bryce. Bryce is also a co-founder of the Rackspace Cloud and currently serves as the Executive Director of the OpenStack Foundation. The OpenStack Foundation was formed in 2012 as a way to help push the open source effort forward in a vendor-neutral multi-stakeholder model.
Bryce told Datamation that in the last three years, he has seen an astounding community emerge around OpenStack.
"The community and collaboration of our members is a true success story in the technology industry that has created opportunities for organizations and individuals around the world," Bryce said.
Another key figure in the growth and evolution of OpenStack is Mark Collier, who helped to found the effort and is currently the Chief Operating Office of the OpenStack Foundation. At Rackspace, Collier worked as the VP of Business and Corporate Development.
Collier told Datamation that three years ago when OpenStack got started, he didn't expect things to be where they are now.
"We believed strongly in the idea of a fully open cloud platform that was started by users with a strong ecosystem around it, but had no idea how fast that ecosystem would come together or how many users would be interested in just three years," Collier said. "We certainly didn't expect to have over 1,000 developers, that's pretty unheard of in open source."
The rapid growth and the global nature of the OpenStack community has been a good surprise for Collier. He commented that he went to Japan in 2010 just after launching OpenStack, and there was already a user group (JOSUG) with a standing room only, sold out crowd. At the time, OpenStack only had some prototype code running.
"That told me the idea was very powerful," Collier said. Now we see the more people visit OpenStack.org from Beijing than any other city, and Japan interest continues to be very strong as well," Collier said. "Considering the project was started by two organizations in the US, that definitely surprised me.
"The power of open source really is universal and global," Collier added.
The rapid growth of OpenStack has not come without its fair share of challenges.
"We are constantly striving to manage this accelerated growth to enable the hundreds of changes that come into the same code base on a daily basis and dozens of events that happen each week," Bryce said. "We're constantly thinking about what's next, how to scale, and how we continue to make OpenStack an attractive community for the brightest minds and innovators to come together and build the future of computing."
In the beginning of the effort, it was possible to know everyone that was involved in the community, but that's no longer the case.
"We just have to trust in the model and values of the community, and pitch in wherever we can to help preserve that and grow the platform's reach," Collier said. "From the Foundation perspective, that means prioritizing, but as long as we stick to our core values we will do the right thing for OpenStack."
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Datamation and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.