Second meetup event in Finland dedicated to OpenStack®, the open-source operating system for the cloud, was held in Helsinki on 11th February 2014. Apollo Live Club hosted twice bigger crowd than in the first meetup in October last year, indicating rapidly growing interest in cloud computing. Event was organized by Cybercom Finland and sponsored by Cybercom, Rackspace, Suse and Red Hat. Rackspace is a founder of OpenStack. Cybercom is Nordic IT consulting company providing expertize in connectivity services.
Cloud computing refers to use of a network of remote computers to store, manage and process the data (including for example text files, pictures and video), which users can access over the Internet on the device of their choice. It is considered faster, cheaper, more flexible and potentially more secure than on-site IT solutions. Many popular services such as Facebook, Spotify and web-based e-mail use cloud computing technologies. However, the real economic benefits come through widespread use of cloud solutions by businesses and the public sector. That is actually where the contribution of this event was targeted.
OpenStack and privacy aspects
On behalf of organizers, Illkka Tengvall, cloud architect from Cybercom Finland, opened the event giving a brief overview of OpenStack and how it fits in wider cloud stage. Talking about cloud services as modern way of providing computing resources with charging only for usage, he compared them with water consumption. You open the tap and you are charged only how much water is run out.
The major issue with the offering of cloud services nowadays is privacy. Storing sensitive data in the cloud has been increasingly raising privacy concerns due to multiple cases where some cloud vendors have willingly or forcefully leaked user data. Country specific regulations allow authorities to request and enforce access to sensitive data.
Addressing privacy challenge, OpenStack offers cloud machinery (computing, networking, storage, and shared services on standard hardware) that enables creating three types of cloud environments in respect to privacy level: private, hybrid, and public clouds. Private cloud is typically used to automatize existing server capacity in house and build development environment and small scale production environment. Private cloud enables keeping valuable data like customer data and other sensitive corporate data in house. Other possibility is choosing a trusted partner to host your private cloud (hybrid approach). Run by third party, public cloud is usually used to deliver bulk of data closer to the user for faster access. Having these choices, the major challenge is to design a cloud machinery in such way to balance privacy and performance, agility and security, allowing interoperability between the public and private clouds.
History and present state
In continuation of the event, Rajan Sriram, principal engineer from Rackspace, talked about history of OpenStack from initial joint effort of Rackspace and NASA engineers which resulted in the first version, to community project as it is run at present day. Community currently involves 250 companies and 12.000 individual members present in 130 countries. Today, Rackspace runs huge public clouds based on OpenStack in 6 global data centers and also multiple private clouds.
Final speaker was Lirim Osmani from Computer Science Department, University of Helsinki. He explained how a scalable and resilient infrastructure of a private cloud was built based on OpenStack components for one of the most demanding purpose – data analysis for CERN High Energy Physics (HEP).
Finale of the event was lively table discussions on multiple pre-agreed topics and, of course, most exciting networking part.
The major take away from this event for me was strengthened notion about commoditization of IT services due to introduction of cloud computing with ability to dynamically increase or decrease capacity to match usage needs, and indeed that cloud is becoming a commodity itself.
Getting an insight into huge potential of cloud computing made clear why the expectations are high regarding could’s ability to deliver business value while reducing operating cost at the same time. These expectations are not only embodied in corporate strategies, but also in strategies of many governments. For example, European Cloud Computing Strategy promotes rapid adoption of cloud computing through enhancing trust in cloud computing services and unlocking their potential for boosting productivity in all sectors of the economy.
Knowingly or not, events like this are paving the road towards turning those strategies into reality.
Written by Predrag Miskeljin, Laurea SID student