OpenStack Foundation funding vendors announced

Nineteen tech players pledge up to $14.2 million

The OpenStack Foundation is not quite baked yet, but that hasn't stopped the nascent organization from announcing pledged support from 19 technology vendors who intend to become Platinum or Gold members of the Foundation when it actually gets started.

Specifically, "AT&T, Canonical, HP, IBM, Nebula, Rackspace, Red Hat, and SUSE have indicated their intent to join the foundation as Platinum Members, and Cisco, ClearPath Networks, Cloudscaling, Dell, DreamHost, ITRI, Mirantis, Morphlabs, NetApp, Piston Cloud Computing and Yahoo! as Gold Members based on the principles outlined in the published mission and framework," according to the press release from the OpenStack Project that hit the wires this morning.

According to the established funding structure for the soon-to-be OpenStack Foundation, Platinum members will fund $500,000 per year, with a three-year commitment. Gold Members will fund an amount equal to total company revenue times .025%, with a minimum of $50,000 and a maximum of $200,000.

Do the math, and the OpenStack Foundation just picked up anywhere between $12.55-$14.2 million--depending on how the Gold member numbers add up, with $4.55-$6.2 million of that coming in the first year.

The announcement of funding comes at a time when attention on OpenStack has been less than positive about this very topic. Last month, OpenStack co-founder Joshua McKenty, who is now CEO of Piston Cloud Computing, raised sharp concerns about the new Foundation's funding model.

"The current official proposal for the foundation creates a new class of super-members--with a sticker price of $2.5M (due up front) that puts it out of reach of all but a small handful of organizations," McKenty wrote at the time.

The $2.5 million figure comes from the original proposal for Platinum member status, which was $500,000, but for a five-year commitment, not three years. The Gold member status was tweaked slightly downward, too: the original ceiling was $250,000, now lowered to $200,000.

Jonathan Bryce, founder of the RackSpace Cloud, addressed questions about this change. After outlining the transparent process by which the OpenStack Foundation has created its mission and governance, he circled back around to McKenty's comments.

"About a week after we posted the Funding model, Josh posted his thoughts on the model," Bryce explained. "This led to a lot of really productive discussions on the mailing lists. This has been an iterative process all along, where we listen to feedback and make changes."

The changes don't directly incorporate McKenty's March proposals, but they do seem to lower the price tag for corporate members to jump in at the higher funding levels.

Even at the minimum amounts of Gold member funding, the OpenStack Foundation will still pull in at least $4.55 million in the first year, which meets the fundraising goal outlined in the Foundation's funding wiki.

Still, it was hard not to feel a bit of cynicism about the timing of today's announcement, coming so soon after Citrix' donation of its CloudStack cloud management platform to the Apache Software Foundation, a move that seemed to deflate the impact of the OpenStack presence on the cloud marketplace a bit. Is today's announcement a spotlight-grabbing play?


Mark Collier, VP of Business & Corporate Development, Rackspace, reminded me of the Drafting Committee Process page on the wiki, which thoroughly outlines the schedule the Foundation creation process is taking.

Anyone who might accuse OpenStack of trying to grab attention with today's announcement might want to think again: April 5 was the deadline for interested companies to sign the Acknowledgement Letter stating their intent in which funding level they would want to participate.

Given the dates on the timeline, it's clear that this announcement would have happened all along, regardless. In fact, given the openness of the OpenStack schedule, now the cynical part of me has to wonder if all the recent announcements about CloudStack and other OpenStack competitors in this space weren't just calculated PR moves to preempt the OpenStack announcement anyone who read the Foundation wiki would have known was coming.

Let's see, the next big announcement will be around April 23, with the publishing "of the initial full draft of Articles of Organization, Bylaws and Membership Agreement consistent with Governance Framework published on wiki."

Wonder what will happen then?

Today's news does not launch the OpenStack Foundation… that delivery is still scheduled for the third quarter of 2012, which according to Bryce and Collier, should still be on schedule.

Today's funding announcement means that now the lights will be on when the big day finally arrives.

Read more of Brian Proffitt's Zettatag and Open for Discussion blogs and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Drop Brian a line or follow Brian on Twitter at @TheTechScribe. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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