Why they're important: One of the most outspoken leaders of the OpenStack community is Randy Bias, CEO and co-founder of OpenStack company Cloudscaling, and a member of the OpenStack board of directors. This company focuses solely on building clouds for its customers based on OpenStack technology. Unlike other companies though, Bias is not afraid to share his thoughts that enterprise clouds should operate like those from Amazon Web Services and Google. That's the philosophy Cloudscaling has taken to building its products, which use the OpenStack code to implement the strategy.
Company: Piston Cloud Computing Co.
Why they're important: Like Mirantis and Cloudscaling, Piston Cloud Computing Co. is a pure-play OpenStack company. Founder and CTO Joshua McKenty is one of the original developers of OpenStack dating back to his days at NASA. Now, McKenty and his team have taken the OpenStack code they helped create and turn it into a packaged software used to build private clouds. If an end user took the OpenStack code and attempted to install at, it would be difficult because there are a lot of choices that have to be made about exactly how it should be configured. McKenty, who now sits on the OpenStack board of directors, likes to say that it has done all that legwork for its customers and created a platform that's easy to install, upgrade and manage.
Why they're important: The battle to control OpenStack is now being duked out by companies that made their name originally on Linux. Red Hat is the most prime example of that, but Canonical through its Ubuntu operating system has been integrating OpenStack features into its OS. Canonical is now one of the major OpenStack companies. In a survey of OpenStack users conducted by the OpenStack Foundation last year, it found that Canonical's Ubuntu was the leading operating system for OpenStack deployments. Canonical's latest release of Ubuntu 14.04 focuses heavily on integrating OpenStack.
Why they're important: Like Red Hat and Canonical, SUSE - which has its own Linux distribution - is playing in the OpenStack game too. Perhaps most notably, SUSE's cloud executive serves as the chairman of the OpenStack board of directors. SUSE has created a packaged distribution of OpenStack.
Why they're important: Nebula is in the category along with Mirantis, Cloudscaling and Piston, but it is taking a slightly different approach. While those companies are all primarily software vendors, Nebula has taken an approach of integrating hardware and software together, using OpenStack, to sell customers a complete turnkey solution. Nebula founder and Chief Strategy Office Chris Kemp is somewhat of an OpenStack celebrity who is widely quoted as one of the fathers of the project from his time at NASA, and now is one of the most prominent evangelists for the open source project in general.
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