Rackspace has recently added to its leadership team in order to bring aboard more open source expertise. The hosting and cloud  services provider has recently brought aboard Andrew Shafer [pictured], co-founder of Puppet Labs and former VP of Engineering at CloudScaling, to help its Cloud Builders and OpenStack teams develop products and bring them to market more quickly.

What's interesting is that Rackspace didn't formally "hire" Shafer into a certain position within the company. And when I spoke with Shafer in mid-March to learn more about his role, he said that the ambiguity of his official title with Rackspace is something he's both used to and embraces.

"I'm not used to being locked-in to roles," said Shafer, who has been working  open source and Linux products since the late 1990's. "This is a very flexible position. I'm going to try to help figure out how Rackspace can best position itself and its products."

So what exactly does that entail? Since beginning his work with Rackspace roughly two weeks ago, Shafer has been helping to develop Rackspace's product strategy and online communities around open source products. "There are still a lot of questions around the open source ecosystem," Shafer explained. "Companies are still trying to figure out what it means to be an open source company."

OpenStack "Co-opetition"

According to Shafer, there is still a lot of uncertainty in the OpenStack community. So although companies like Rackspace, rPath and Red Hat are competing for customers, there is what Shafer calls "co-opetition" within the Open source sector, meaning companies are competing with one another while simultaneously trying to advance open source platforms together. And Shafer thinks there is an opportunity for open source/OpenStack to grow. "Open source gives companies the opportunity to build both public and private clouds," Shafer explained. "Open source is the biggest opportunity we have to create more value for computing."

Future with Rackspace

Shafer says he was not actively in pursuit of a position with Rackspace or any similar position. It was actually Rackspace that recruited him. Why did Shafer decide to join the company? "It's all about people," he explained. "There are a lot of really good developers at Rackspace. Working with great people makes you better."

And as for a future with Rackspace. Shafer did not say how long he plans to stay with the company, but we should expect him to stay put for a while, as he said that his role with Rackspace "probably will evolve into some sort of official position."