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HP has just implemented OpenStack into its public cloud service as a public beta this morning.

Even though the service launched in 2010, OpenStack was limited to a small number of customers in its alpha testing stages. OpenStack cloud was released in public beta on May 1st by Rackspace as the foundation of HP’s public cloud. Many companies are so adamant about supporting OpenStack because it’s one of the few alternatives to Amazon Web Services.

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OpenStack is an open source cloud platform that officially launched two years ago (code named Austin) over at Rackspace. Over 150 companies (like AMD, Intel, Canonical, Dell, and more) support OpenStack. Rackspace has launched this Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) as free open source under the Apache License. OpenStack was made partly on top of NASA’s Nebula cloud platform in addition to Rackspace’s Cloud Files platform. Rackspace committed to releasing updates for OpenStack every few months for the foreseeable future. The most recent update is Essex and was released the first week of April this year.

Despite the excitement surrounding an open source IaaS solution, some critics are saying that it’s too late for OpenStack to change the cloud service market much and that many companies are already set in their ways whether with Amazon or VMware’s vSphere virtualization.

One analyst explains that VMware was the first company on the data center scene to provide virtualization and companies like IBM and HP feel like they’ve ceded control of the market without getting a fighting chance. Now that the cloud is becoming the next big thing in hosting services, those same companies are determined not to make the same mistake twice. To do that, they are supporting an open source, third-party infrastructure that can make companies think twice before shelling out more money to Amazon.

Other critics are raising the question of HP’s stability as a company and whether it’s the best company to be the example of OpenStack’s software. HP has recycled three CEOs in three years. However, the company has certainly been aggressive in forcing its cloud to be a major player in the cloud hosting market. Not only has Hewlett-Packard been pushing its public cloud, but it has also been doing work to promote its private and hybrid cloud services, all of which use OpenStack.

Another puzzling piece of the situation is that two years ago, before the launch of OpenStack, HP had committed to run Microsoft Windows Azure cloud services in its data centers. Since then, there has never been another mention of that partnership. Some see this mixed cloud allegiance as a problem, but others view it as a diverse cloud portfolio and a way to use different tools to address different needs. HP has made it clear that while it is using and promoting OpenStack, it will not tie itself down to exclusively using it for its cloud infrastructure.

Multiple companies have already implemented OpenStack into their operations, such as Internap, HP, Dell, and Cisco. While there has been widespread support, the project has also convinced some companies (like Citrix) to branch out on their own and try their hand at the same kind of solution. For example, Citrix was supporting OpenStack but has recently started its own project CloudStack to compete.

Despite OpenStack’s best efforts, at the end of the day – it’s not completely free. While the service is certainly cheaper than other proprietary software, Platinum OpenStack Foundation members will be billed $500,000 USD a year with a commitment of three years for using the infrastructure. And there is the bottom line of all companies: profit has to be made in some way.

If you’re interested in learning more about other kinds of open source software, check out Yahoo’s app framework Mojito which was made open source in early April of this year.