Storage giant EMC has released source code for RackHD – a hardware management and orchestration platform that automates common server-related tasks, formerly known as Project OnRack.

The feature list sounds similar to some of the functionality delivered by existing tools like Chef, Puppet and Ansible – however EMC’s marketing president Jeremy Burton was quick to clarify that RackHD is meant to compliment and integrate with, not replace these popular brands of automation software.

EMC has also pushed out updates for another two open source projects, CopprHD and REX-Ray. The former is a software tool for managing block and file storage from different vendors, while the latter is a storage orchestration engine for environments running container-based applications.

When it rains, it pours

RackHD logo
RackHD logo – EMC

EMC is fairly new to the open source game. Of course, the company has been involved in open source projects before, but it has never contributed the entire code of a commercial product - a model well-established in enterprise IT - until the release of CoprHD (pronounced ‘copperhead’) earlier this year.

Fast-forward eight months, and EMC now has three open source projects, with CoprHD, an open source version of its ViPR storage controller, finally attracting the attention of third-party developers.

Just like CoprHD, RackHD (pronounced as ‘rack’ ‘eatch’ ‘dee’ and not ‘rackhead’) stands to benefit from the involvement of the community. It’s a hardware-agnostic management and orchestration platform intended to work across a broad range of servers, so it could really use some input from the makers of those servers.

EMC CTO John Roese described RackHD as providing “a new layer of abstraction between the hardware and infrastructure software”. The foundation for the software platform was created by VCE, a member of the EMC federation of companies, when it was developing its hyper-converged VxRack server range.

Once configured, RackHD can automatically carry out time-consuming tasks like updating firmware or BIOS, or installing operating systems across thousands of machines. Future versions are expected to support not just servers, but also networking equipment.

The source code for RackHD is available on GitHub.

“The release of RackHD as an open source project is an important milestone for the industry,” said Roese.

“Next-generation data designs leveraging pools of industry-standard hardware presented as pools of compute, network, and storage capacity to next-generation infrastructure service software is dependent on an open abstraction layer that is supported by all industry vendors. This is why EMC made the decision to move our work into the open source community.”

EMC has also announced that CoprHD has reached version 2.4 and now supports EMC Elastic Cloud Storage (ECS) and EMC XtremIO 4.0. The company has launched collaborations with Intel and Oregon State University to expand third-party storage support and OpenStack integration.

Meanwhile the latest version of REX-Ray adds support for EMC VMAX, EMC Isilon and Google Compute Engine (GCE).