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Users Take Spotlight At OpenStack Summit Portland

It’s all about the users – that was the resounding message throughout OpenStack Summit Portland on Tuesday, as companies large and small shared their stories about how they leverage OpenStack.

“OpenStack is being used, and it works,” said Rackspace Senior Vice President of Private Cloud and OpenStack Co-Founder Jim Curry, noting that among the more than 2,400 OpenStack Summit attendees, the majority are users or potential users.

At the Summit Tuesday morning, a number of customers took to the stage to showcase how OpenStack boosts their businesses.

Retail giant Best Buy highlighted how it used OpenStack to build out its new ecommerce platform, which reduced its online product page load times from between seven and 30 seconds to just 2.5 seconds. Joel Crabb, Bestbuy.com chief architect, said that elasticity of the cloud environment enables Bestbuy.com to better accommodate major traffic spikes, which often occur during the bustling holiday shopping season – when traffic can spike to more than eight times normal levels.

And Best Buy’s Continuous Delivery Cloud (CDC) helped Best Buy get away from manual touches and changes and helped it automate its environment. The CDC creates faster development cycles and gives Best Buy’s roughly 40 development teams the ability to build and test more quickly and be more nimble.

Comcast, too, is putting OpenStack to the test. After roughly a year of general investigation, the $60 billion company began building the X1, a service that connects the set top box to the cloud and enables Comcast to offer its customers a more personalized experience through searching and recording capabilities.

In a live demo, Comcast Senior Vice President of Product Engineering Mark Muehl showed how the service provider juggernaut leveraged OpenStack to move intelligence off of the set top box and into the cloud. X1 lets users search for recorded programs, on-demand features, sporting events and more by simply using the remote. Muehl illustrated how Comcast’s OpenStack cloud’s intelligence enhances search capabilities and delivers results to the customer.

“Every keystroke goes into the cloud,” Muehl said.

Previously, Muehl said, Comcast had very little control over what data lived on the set top box. Moving to an OpenStack cloud allows all of the communication between the set top box and the network to go through Comcast’s OpenStack production cloud.

Using the film “Serenity” as an example, Muehl pulled up the information page, which also features Flixster and Rotten Tomatoes ratings, data that he said wouldn’t be available if it relied on the storage capacity of the set top box.

But it isn’t just large companies making waves with OpenStack. Smaller businesses like marketing software upstart HubSpot are finding real value in open clouds. Using OpenStack and Rackspace’s public cloud, private cloud and bare metal, HubSpot is able to achieve true image parity and move workloads between each environment with relative ease. Jim O’Neill, HubSpot CIO, said its applications no longer know nor care where they run. According to O’Neill, HubSpot’s OpenStack-powered hybrid cloud has helped the Boston-based company achieve a four times increase in efficiency processing workloads.

Jonathan Bryce, OpenStack Foundation Executive Director, said these customer stories illustrate how OpenStack has matured and said the time is now for real companies to be using OpenStack to build great things.

“The software that we’re building … it’s going to all of these places and more,” Bryce said. “What this community has done together is nothing short of amazing.”

About the Author

This is a post written and contributed by Andrew Hickey.

Andrew Hickey is chief blog editor at Rackspace, a role in which he helps Rackers, customers and partners tell their stories. Andrew comes to Rackspace following many years as a journalist, more than half of which were spent covering high tech and Rackspace. When not writing, Andrew enjoys spending time with his wife and his dog, and spinning punk rock vinyl. If you have an idea for the Rackspace Blog, track down Andrew at andrew.hickey@rackspace.com.


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