Rackspace jumps on bandwagon with open source PaaS project

Lucy Carey

New project


Public cloud provider Rackspace has added another tier to its teetering OpenStack pile with the recently announced, and sketchily outlined, ‘Project Solum’ (or possibly just ‘Solum’ – there seems to be a mixed consensus on this).

Rackspace Principal Architect Adrian Otto outlined the aims of the project in an open letter to the OpenStack community on Wednesday. Working in partnership with eBay, Red Hat, Ubuntu/Canonical, dotCloud/Docker, Cloudsoft,and Cumulogic, the company will be working to create a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) system for OpenStack.

There’s already an ‘experimental’ prototype of Solum up and running, but according to the FAQs, it’s being started from the ground-up as an open design with all code coming from community contributors. Given that it’s yet to reach 1.0 status, it will be a while yet before this clear attempt by Rackspace to jump on the oh-so-buzzy PaaS train can even start to be considered a threat to existing providers. And with IBM in cahoots with Cloud Foundry, that prospect seems tenuous at best.

Due to the relatively embryonic stage of development, there’s a lot that’s still yet to be explained – for example, what services and capabilities will PaaS service provider Red Hat be adding to the project? And what will differentiate Solum from other automated runtime environments such as Cloud Foundry or Open Shift?

According to the announcement, Solum will be open sourced, and will ultimately serve to ease application lifecycle management across dev, test, and production types of environments. This will be supported by the Heat project’s automated orchestration, which includes faculties such as resource deployment, monitoring-based self-healing, and auto-scaling. It was also foster easy application portability between public and private clouds, with no vendor-driven requirements within the application stack or control system.

What the Project Solum roadmap does tell us is that we can expect auto scaling, continuous integration, and application performance monitoring in the mid-term. Solum is natively designed for OpenStack clouds, leveraging numerous OpenStack projects  such as Heat, Keystone, Nova, and Trove, among others. Users are free to use applications written in any language they like, thanks to the addition of a modular ‘language pack’.

Much further down the line, the plan is to roll out IDE Plugins for Eclipse, IntelliJ, JBoss Studio, and Komodo, high availability, backed by distributed placement of load balanced set of code container instances, and an online developer sandbox. Considering the fact that other more developed PaaS leaders have long waded out of the primordial swamp, it’ll be interesting to see if this project can gain enough momentum to really trouble Pivotal.

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