Intel, Rackspace to Build Beachhead for OpenStack’s Next Phase in Texas

Plan large OpenStack dev team and developer cloud in San Antonio

Yevgeniy Sverdlik

July 23, 2015

4 Min Read
Diane Bryant
Diane Bryant, former executive VP and GM of Intel's Data Center Group and former COO of Google Cloud (Photo: Intel)Intel

Recognizing the huge role Rackspace has played in the birth and development of OpenStack, Intel has partnered with the Windcrest, Texas-based data center and cloud services outfit on a new initiative to get OpenStack into more enterprise data centers – tens of thousands more.

More and more enterprises have been dabbling in OpenStack, and some, including companies like PayPal, Walmart, and Bloomberg, have used it to stand up private clouds that run production workloads. But it’s not easy at this stage in OpenStack’s evolution.

“Bloomberg is running a ton of services on OpenStack, but they spend a lot of time adding to the actual source [code] itself to make it enterprise-ready,” Jason Waxman, VP and general manager of Intel’s Cloud Platform Group, said on a call with reporters today.

Today, the financial data and news giant’s use of OpenStack as far as customer-facing services in production are concerned is limited to relatively small web services, John O’Connor, manager of data center operations at Bloomberg, said in an interview. The company uses OpenStack primarily for development, but the goal is to “aggressively move legacy applications in that direction,” he said.

Large OpenStack Dev Center Coming to San Antonio

OpenStack adoption by telcos and cloud service providers is further along than enterprise OpenStack adoption, and Rackspace operates the biggest OpenStack cloud of them all. To speed up the process of making the open source software more enterprise-friendly, Intel and Rackspace are planning to build an OpenStack Innovation Center in San Antonio, Texas, where a large dedicated OpenStack developer team will sit side-by-side with the Rackspace techs who operate a real-life OpenStack cloud day in and day out.

“This is not yet another [OpenStack] distribution,” Waxman said. The developers will focus on adding and improving enterprise features to the core open source code base.

Some of the center’s initial goals include improving scheduling and networking features, adding Linux container services, and fixing bugs in general.

The most successful enterprise OpenStack clouds today scale to a few hundred nodes, according to Waxman. The initiative’s goal is to enable enterprise clouds that scale to thousands of nodes.

Intel and Rackspace plan to stand up two 1,000-node server clusters that will be available to developers free of charge so they can test and validate OpenStack code. Expected to come online within the next six months, it will be the largest OpenStack development cloud in the world, Waxman said.

Intel Says Cloud Adoption Not Fast Enough

Intel’s investment in the center is part of a broader initiative Intel announced today to speed up adoption of cloud computing in general. The company estimates that half of the world’s applications run on cloud infrastructure now and expects 85 percent of them to run in the cloud by 2020, Diane Bryant, senior VP and general manager of Intel’s Data Center Group, said.

“This transition to cloud is actually not happening fast enough,” she said. Impediments to growth include a rapid pace of innovation in the cloud software stack, too many options for things like hypervisors, orchestration, or developer environments, and numerous configuration choices within each of those options.

It takes a high degree of expertise and weeks or months of work to stand up a cloud today with all the mandatory enterprise features like high availability, version control, and management features that are consistent with existing enterprise IT management systems.

Intel’s goal is to eliminate all these impediments, and it plans to invest in companies, technology, industry collaboration, standards development, and market development to bring cloud computing into tens of thousands of data centers that don’t use it today, according to Bryant. “There will be a continued stream of investments that we will be making,” she said.

Intel’s primary interest is to make sure cloud infrastructure of the future can take advantage of advanced features the company builds into its processors.

The chip family that powers the majority of the world’s clouds today is Intel’s Xeon E5, which according to Waxman is in 95 percent of cloud servers deployed. There’s also growing interest in Xeon Phi processors for high-performance computing in the cloud, he said.

Intel officials did not reveal the total size of investment under the initiative, saying only that it would be big. “We’re a big company so ‘big’ for us is big,” Waxman said.

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