OpenStack at its core is an open source project - it's free code. But what makes OpenStack come alive are the vendors that have contributed to make that raw code and then turned it into a product businesses can use.
Some companies have used OpenStack as the basis for their public clouds; Rackspace, for example, has proven that OpenStack can power a massive, geographically distributed cloud. Others are packaging the components that make up OpenStack into an easy-to-digest product sold to enterprises for building their own private cloud.
Our list of the top 15 OpenStack companies is not scientific - it's based on which companies have devoted the most resources to OpenStack, which have contributed the most code to the project, and which have the greatest ability to spread this open source platform into the market more broadly.
Why they're important: Rackspace is an OpenStack founding father. The company started OpenStack officially, along with NASA in 2010. The company contributed the original storage pieces while NASA had the computing side. Rackspace managed the project for the first two years before the OpenStack Foundation was established. Since then Rackspace is still seen largely as the public face of OpenStack and to this day the company is one of the most ardent and supportive backers of OpenStack. The company uses OpenStack as the basis for much of its public cloud and it offers customers a distribution of the software to create a private and hybrid cloud based on the same platform. The public cloud and managed hosting provider is one of the first to roll out new OpenStack features in production, and it provides one of the most robust public cloud deployments. Rackspace acts as an ongoing proven example that OpenStack can power a globally distributed massive scale public cloud. It seems that as long as there is OpenStack, Rackspace will be an important and relevant player in the community.
Company: Red Hat
Why they're important: Red Hat made its first billion dollars productizing Linux for the enterprise. Now, it wants to do the same for OpenStack. The company has invested heavily in the project. According to StackAnalytics, it is the leading contributor to OpenStack code among vendors for the Icehouse release.
Red Hat has its own distribution of OpenStack, which is integrated deeply with its flagship product, Red Hat Enterprise Linux and is called RHEL OpenStack. Red Hat has contributed many resources to OpenStack, so it is expected to be a player in this market for the long haul.
Why they're important: Dell has had fits and starts in the cloud, but one thing has remained clear: It's commitment to OpenStack. The company originally had plans to build a public cloud based on OpenStack. But, it scraped those plans and instead is now focusing on delivering consulting and implementation services for customers, undoubtedly with a heavy dose of Dell hardware and services on top of it all.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.