Hewlett-Packard is one of several high profile companies working to deploy public and private clouds on the OpenStack  platform. HP has announced plans to become a platinum member of the OpenStack® Foundation and has played a key role in shaping the technology that’s quickly becoming a dominant operating system for the cloud.
The stakes are high as OpenStack backers aim to prove to enterprise customers that the open source alternative can outshine proprietary systems such as Amazon Web Services, VMware and Microsoft.
“OpenStack is on the mind of pretty much everyone in big IT,” said Lew Moorman, president of Rackspace. “It has real mindshare with that group and they’re kicking the tires.”
HP is doing more than a test drive. Its entire cloud strategy is based on OpenStack.
The company in May launched a public beta of HP Cloud Services  – a suite of public cloud services built on OpenStack. Thousands of users have signed up for the beta, said Richard Kaufmann, chief technologist for HP Cloud Services, including traditional Infrastructure-as-a-Service users, individual developers, startups and traditional enterprises.
On the private cloud side, HP offers VMware, HyperV and OpenStack-based alternatives. And both its public and private cloud offerings are an integral part of its all-encompassing hybrid ‘Converged Cloud’ strategy announced in April.
Driving OpenStack Adoption
By testing the platform on such a large scale, HP aims to help overcome one of the most pressing issues for OpenStack, and open source cloud computing in general: adoption.
“We want customers to use more,” said Kaufmann. “Customers will vote with their feet if they discover OpenStack is an excellent alternative.”
In Kaufmann’s mind, the choice for customers is clear.
“There are two important APIs out there, one is Amazon’s and the other is OpenStack. And OpenStack has Amazon compatibility,” Kaufmann said. “If I were advising a customer, I’d say the OpenStack APIs are a safe bet.”
OpenStack has seen broad adoption from some of the largest and most influential players in IT such as Canonical, Red Hat and IBM, making it likely that data and applications built or stored on OpenStack can be readily ported elsewhere, Kaufmann said. It also offers better compatibility between public and private cloud infrastructure for companies pursuing a hybrid approach to cloud computing, he said.
HP’s OpenStack Contributions
Because it is an open source project, attracting more customers to OpenStack means more users testing the software and ultimately a better operating system. Contributions from the OpenStack community are also essential to the project’s success.
HP has been a large contributor to Swift , OpenStack’s object storage system. Its work on ‘availability zones’ allows Swift users to replicate copies of objects in three separate fault containment zones to limit vulnerability to a single failure in a datacenter.
HP has also contributed to the Quantum  networking project and made a number of changes to Nova  for stability at large scale, Kaufmann said. And engineers are currently working with the Folsom pool on the next release of OpenStack, due out in October.
“It’s only by active participation that we’ll keep the community together,” Kaufmann said “It’s in our best interest for OpenStack to remain a cohesive force.”
HP is also sharing its lessons learned from the public cloud beta on what an OpenStack deployment means for security and operations. Kaufmann and his colleague BDale Garbee, Open Source and Linux CTO at HP, will highlight these issues in their keynote talk , "Linux and the Cloud at HP," at The Linux Foundation’s CloudOpen conference  Aug. 29-31 in San Diego.
Editor's Note: This is the first article in a series of weekly profiles on Linux.com that will feature leaders of the open cloud in advance of the upcoming CloudOpen conference.