When we first began supporting the OpenStack project, we saw in it something that other open source cloud software projects did not have. OpenStack offered a path forward for companies that wanted to launch open cloud infrastructures in the model of AWS and Google.

That was in July of 2010. What I said was:

“OpenStack, with a strong community behind it, should be an important tool for service providers and large telcos to compete at scale with the Amazon and Googles of this world.”

It’s nearly two years later, and there is definitely a ‘strong community behind’ OpenStack. More than 165 companies have joined the project, from startups to multinational giants. And they’re not just lurking and watching. They’re contributing code. In fact, more than 200 Stackers from 55 companies contributed to Essex, the release announced last week. Want more diversity? There are more than 20 global user groups, and there are 2,600 members of the technical community.

But is OpenStack becoming ‘an important tool for service providers and large telcos to compete at scale’?

There’s no doubt about it. Companies from KT and Internap to Deutsche Telekom and HP have launched production-grade deployments on OpenStack. Beyond these marquee deployments, consider the 100,000 downloads to date.

And remember, it’s not even two years old yet.

Today, the OpenStack community is taking the next step toward becoming the most profound open source movement since Linux. Eighteen companies have stepped forward as platinum or gold members of the OpenStack Foundation. These companies are making a financial commitment to help assure the long-term, independent success of the community. Each of them committed code to Essex. They’re vested.

One of the things that makes OpenStack work is its open development process where technical  meritocracy drives the code. The community is simply too diverse for one company to impose its will. With the formation of the foundation, this philosophy becomes codified into the DNA of how OpenStack functions.

Credit Where It’s Due I’d be remiss if I didn’t call out Rackspace for their thoughtful and balanced stewardship of the project to this point. Jim Curry, Mark Collier and their team have guided OpenStack toward today’s foundation announcement. Rackspace, and the entire OpenStack community know that the formation of the OpenStack Foundation is the correct next step to move the mantle of leadership to the community itself.

Getting on With What’s Next It’s as true today as it was in July of 2010. OpenStack will succeed because of the diversity, engagement and energy of the community building it. And we’re not done building that community. There are tough questions to answer about governance and competition. But as the community takes care of its internal business, the market will take care of the competitive issues.

To my fellow Stackers, we’ll see you next week at the Summit to get on with the business of self governance. And join us on Monday night for a party with our co-hosts SolidFire and RightScale. There’s plenty to celebrate.