The OpenStack project, set up by Rackspace and NASA to offer open source cloud deployment, has launched the next phase of the development and several new members, including Canonical and Cisco. The new developments have been designed to help the flexibility of cloud deployments

The project has implemented a variety of new features under the code name Bexar, These features include OpenStack Compute and Object Storage. OpenStack users are also being offered better documentation to guide them through the deployment process.

Canonical's support for the project means that OpenStack will be included in the repositories for Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal) although at present Canonical will not support provide full support. The move to support OpenStack follows the release of Canonical's Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud (UEC) on Dell servers earlier this week.

Among the new features, OpenStack will streamline the installation process, allowing users to pre-install and create their own application environments. Other features include support for IPv6, Hyper-V, iSCSI with XenAPI, XenServer snapshots and raw disk images, as well as the addition of a sub-project code-named Glance, an image discovery and delivery service that enables portability of workloads between OpenStack clouds.

Object Storage, which has already been included in some commercial deployments, creates redundant, scalable object storage using clusters of commodity servers to store large volumes of accessible data. It serves as a long term storage system for permanent static data.

"We've heard CIOs hesitate to invest in proprietary cloud technology, because they don't to want be locked in for the long haul. They want the freedom to switch cloud hosting or technology providers and gain more flexibility with their deployments," said Jim Curry, VP of OpenStack at Rackspace. "OpenStack is rapidly moving to solve these problems, and it's evident to us that we need an open cloud standard to best enable hybrid scenarios, federation and easy migration. We appreciate the hundreds of contributors who see the vision and have joined the cause."

According to Canonical, OpenStack is a perfect fit in its move to build a platform for open-source cloud environments. "OpenStack is critical to that goal and I know that there is huge anticipation in our user base to start exploring the capabilities of OpenStack on the best OS for the cloud, which is Ubuntu," said Neil Levine, VP of Corporate Services at Canonical

Besides Canonical, other new members of the project include Cisco, Extreme Networks and Grid Dynamics. There will be further developments in the OpenStack project over the coming year. The theme of the next release, Cactus, expected in April, is set to design the project for service provider-scale deployments. Cactus is also expected to include additional highly requested features such as live migration of virtual machines.