UTSA collaborates with Rackspace to create OpenStack

The OpenStack Innovation Center ­— a collaboration between Rackspace, Intel and UTSA — was inaugurated earlier this month in Rackspace’s headquarters.

OpenStack, an open-source software that functions as an operating system for the cloud (just like Windows does for the PC), is the product of an earlier collaboration between Rackspace and NASA. Now, the new OpenStack Innovation Center will allow for further development of the software.

At work will be a group of software developers and engineers, both from Rackspace and Intel. As OpenStack and its acceptance grew worldwide, Intel decided they wanted to be involved in the software’s development. The fact that Intel is a chip manufacturer is key because that could mean future chips will be optimized to work with OpenStack software.

There are a couple of proprietary systems out there (like Amazon’s) that run their own cloud. OpenStack’s differentiating factor is that it is free and open to everybody. This allows multiple people to contribute their own improvements, accelerating the growth and maturation of the software.

“All of a sudden, instead of a company just having a few hundred people developing the software, you have thousands across the world working at it,” says Dr. Mauli Agrawal, Vice-President of Research at UTSA. “It’s great for innovation.”

With the launch of the Open Cloud Institute last year, UTSA now has one of the largest open clouds in academia running on open software. Since OpenStack is the dominant open software running the cloud, it is only natural that they would look to UTSA for the workforce needed to continue the development of the cloud and its software.

Up to forty engineering and computer science students will have the opportunity to apply for an internship with the OpenStack Innovation Center every year. As part of the internship, they will go through training; depending on how they do, Intel may hire them. Currently, ten interns are already hard at work, and they all have potential.

Not only could this mean that current UTSA students would have more resources available, but it could also mean that a greater influx of students will attend UTSA in the future. Many students look into the programs the university offers, as well as where the students end up after they graduate. This means that the existence of the new internship program could cause people to look at UTSA and know it is a pathway to a great career.

Big universities are also taking notice. The University of Michigan recently announced that they are investing in data analytics programs, and part of the reason is because UTSA is taking the lead in certain areas. UTSA is now on the national radar, and other universities know they need to start catching up. For the university, this means another step towards being a Tier 1 university.

“We are firing on all cylinders right now,” Agrawal said. “We’re hitting the national news pretty much every week, so it’s moving us in that direction very quickly. UTSA is on the move.”