OpenStack And The State Of Cloud Computing: A User’s Perspective

roopak_parikh_2015-Oct-27

At last week’s OpenStack Summit, my company, Platform9, had the opportunity to present on some work we’ve done to make our OpenStack solution work in existing environments, also known as a brownfields. The code our engineers developed, which we intend to give back to the community, allows various projects within OpenStack to dynamically discover exiting resources and import them into the OpenStack database for management. These resources currently include hypervisors, virtual machines, networks, and storage. Our experience has been that this lowers the barrier for adoption by many of our customers, particularly those with long histories and large investments in technologies such as VMware vSphere.

Providentially, while several of us were in Tokyo presenting on the work we’ve done, the rest of Platform9 hosted a very special guest at our Sunnyvale office. Cody Hill, Infrastructure Architect at GE, dropped by to meet with the Platform9 team and to share his thoughts on cloud computing in an interview format.

During the interview, Hill talked about the direction that GE is taking in regards to private and public clouds. Cody also discussed why they’ve chosen to standardize on OpenStack for their private cloud technology and why he thinks Platform9 is the best way to consume OpenStack particularly for companies that have a long history and a large investment in VMware vSphere. This aligns well with part of Platform9’s core message and validates the work we’ve doing and the work we are hoping to give back to the OpenStack community.

Below is a snippet from that interview. You can read the interview in its entirety over at the Platform9 blog.

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Q&A with GE’s Cody Hill on the State of the Private Cloud

Last week Platform9 had the pleasure of  hosting GE Cloud Infrastructure Architect Cody Hill when he swung by our Silicon Valley office. In a Q&A session with CEO Sirish Raghuram, Cody shared his perspective on cloud computing, public vs. private cloud, OpenStack, containers, and more. Here are the highlights:

SR: So what is GE trying to do with cloud computing?

CH: GE’s initial goal was to get to the private cloud. We standardized on vCloud Director, which was good initially. But VMware told us we’d have to move from vCloud Director (which they were sunsetting) to vCloud Automation Center (VCAC), and we weren’t impressed with that product. It was a challenge to setup and manage, and as we were working through it we asked VMware to host it as a service to make it easier for us to consume it inside our datacenter. They said it wasn’t the direction they were taking. Since we were going to have to retool and do all that work, we decided that we didn’t want to go to another proprietary tool with proprietary APIs. So we wanted an open standard, hence OpenStack.

We then started on the journey to find an OpenStack vendor. We started with VMware Integrated OpenStack (VIO) about 9 months ago. And again… It was a challenge to setup and manage. When we heard what Platform9 was doing, we were like “Yes! You guys get it!” and wanted to hear more.

 

SR: You spoke about how you’re fairly large scale, probably among the biggest vCloud deployments in the world, and that the end of life of vCloud Director spurred you to try OpenStack in the first place. You had this desire to have a product that looks a lot like Platform9. Now that you’ve worked a bit with Platform9, what’s the experience like so far?

CH: Getting Platform9 deployed day one was shockingly fast. We got it up and running in our dev environment within an hour, spun up a VM very easily. It was probably the quickest deployment I’ve ever had of any product. You can’t even install ESXi that quick.

Then there’s all these things we can leverage. Literally, if I wanted to, the only thing I would have to do is port my templates over to Platform9, copy my some of my automation scripts into the interface and we’re done. Then I can consume it via the OpenStack API, which is amazing, and start deploying VMs. I was floored.

And we really like that you layer on top of vSphere and don’t interfere with the day-to-day operations to manage the vSphere stack. You give us all the benefits of OpenStack without hindering us – no other OpenStack product gives you that.

SR: How important is a product like Platform9 for a company like GE?

CH: What you guys are doing here is probably one of the most innovative things I’ve seen recently. All the problems that you solve – who wouldn’t want all the benefits of OpenStack without the headache of managing it? I can just consume it, and I can focus my time on integrating rather than fighting with a control plane. If you’re like GE and you have to deal with a ton of regulations where you have to provision VMs inside your four walls because of the FDA or HIPAA compliance or whatever it is. Why wouldn’t you want a control plane in the cloud that you don’t have to manage? And who else provides that?

SR: Backing up a little, what are the specific benefits to OpenStack that you value the most?

CH: The open API. We spent two years developing a really tight, integrated systems on top of VMware vCloud Director. Now that they’re ripping that out from underneath us, what do we do with all that code we wrote to integrate and automate? It’s gone. It’s completely gone. OpenStack’s promise is that they’re never going to fully sunset the APIs that are available today. So if we decide to build to the Keystone v3 API, that API will still be there in five years. We don’t have to retool. We can and we should if we want the benefits and features of later versions of the API, but we don’t have to. That was the biggest thing. Let’s standardize on OpenStack so we’re not forced to refactor every couple of years.

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