CIOs Shouldn't See OpenStack and Public Clouds as an Either Or Proposition

By Shelton Shugar, CIO, Barclaycard

with over 20+ million lines of codes and over 30,000 people in the community, OpenStack has easily gained adoption across a variety of industries and proved its viability and reliability for production environments. It has become the fastest growing open source cloud project and an alternative to the public cloud.

Why is it Valuable to Enterprises?

OpenStack provides a hardware abstraction layer that allows the programming of infrastructure through APIs. The OS platform allows the simple provisioning of infrastructure like servers, networking and disk as well as cloud building blocks like availability zones, software defined networking and monitoring. Many of the capabilities of public clouds are provided as part of the OS ecosystem.

Organizations in the financial services industry have leveraged OpenStack to accelerate development and infrastructure provisioning within their private clouds. Barclaycard has used OpenStack to fully automate the provisioning of application environments using build pipelines. The abstraction OpenStack provides, allows API driven configuration of all aspects of an applications ecosystem.

The Cloud Debate

While the public cloud is very appealing, in some situations it makes sense to maintain private clouds or to combine both public and private clouds into one ecosystem. Many reasons exist for each option. The public cloud is great for many organizations but in some industries and with some workloads, a dedicated private cloud makes sense. In organizations like financial services, a mix of public and private clouds can be useful, especially when dealing with certain customer data or any kind of confidential/secret data. It can also be useful to run a private cloud when the elasticity of the public cloud is not needed or if workloads require very low latencies, especially when tied to a specific SLA. A private cloud might also make sense if the needed workload is not elastic and requires a constant fixed set of resources.

The growth in popularity of containers (For instance Docker) has added to the conversation. With containers, organizations can further break out workloads across the infrastructure provided by OpenStack. Lightweight containers can be used to push code more quickly, delivering value faster for the business. Application capacity can more easily scale and contract as load is added or removed from the system through the use of auto scaling and an orchestrator like Kubernetes or Docker Swarm.

Combining Best of both Worlds

There is no question that the cloud is the future. Therefore, CIOs have an important job to guide major enterprises towards the cloud in a smooth, profitable way- utilizing the right technologies for the most effective applications.

The hybrid approach is emerging in the financial services industry and we see OpenStack as a crucial tool for the fore­seeable future. With the FinTechs of the world driving faster, more efficient in­novations across the industry, compa­nies must continue to modernize infra­structures to ensure the best results for their customers.

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