How Rackspace Built World’s Largest Open Cloud

Back in April, I talked about how we re-built the public cloud at Rackspace and how we leveraged the three principles of open source, cloud on cloud and continuous delivery.

Since then, we officially launched the Rackspace open cloud and a host of products powered by OpenStack: Cloud Servers, Cloud Files, Cloud Databases and Private Cloud.

Our move to the open cloud was an incredible journey born out of a key inflection point at Rackspace. I talked about this at length today in my keynote presentation at OpenStack Summit San Diego. Essentially, we reinvented our business and bet the company on OpenStack software.

Today I wanted to tell you a little bit more about how we use OpenStack to power the Rackspace public cloud, which runs on Folosm.

We start with the building blocks of a standard OpenStack deployment. We’re running Nova, Swift, Glance, Quantum and Melange. The compute and storage APIs are available to our customers. Glance leverages Swift for image storage. Nova talks to hundreds of XenServer hypervisors. That’s where we start.

But we need to scale beyond hundreds of hypervisors to thousands or even tens of thousands. To do that Rackspace has developed a Nova enhancement called Cells. We took the lead in building Cells, which we will drop into Nova trunk during the Grizzly work. It’s in a public branch up for review right now. Cells adds one more layer of abstraction that makes multiple cells look like one cloud, answering the promise of near-infinite scale with better manageability. The core image and networking services span multiple cells in what we call a region. We then repeat this deployment pattern in Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago and London.

So now we’ve built our public cloud on OpenStack using open source, cloud on cloud and continuous delivery. It was aggressive, to say the least. So, how’s it working out for us so far?

I’ll let the numbers speak for themselves. In the year leading up to our Cloud Servers powered by OpenStack, we built more than 1 million Nova instances. Some of those are test and some are production, but that’s an astronomical number. You learn a lot and find/fix tons of issues. But, it paid off. Since launching our open cloud on August 1 we’ve had well over 120 million API hits across our three regions – 57,498,784 in Dallas/Fort Worth, 51,161,536 in Chicago and 13,207,428 in London.  That’s a pretty impressive number. That’s a lot to throw at a brand new product – but we are thrilled that it can take it.

Now let’s look at the stability. Our average API availability across all three zones is higher than ever. It is currently better than 99.97 percent including scheduled maintenances – 99.9713 percent in Dallas/Fort Worth, 99.9798 percent in Chicago and 99.9874 percent in London. Across almost all the metrics we use to track our product’s performance, we’re seeing dramatic improvements that yield a great customer experience.The API is more responsive, and servers are building faster. This isn’t hype. It is a real, live testament to all the work this community has done.

This is in production today, and has been since we launched the open cloud on August 1 to all Rackspace cloud customers. Our customers are voting with their feet. We’ve never turned off the option for customers to choose between our two cloud platforms, but from the day that we turned on our open cloud offering, our cloud growth has shifted to the OpenStack-based environment. We are so confident in this new platform that we will be doing more to accelerate the move to OpenStack.

And we’re doing phased rollout of a new feature that helps our customers move from our first generation cloud to the open cloud. With the push of a button in our control panel, you can now snapshot a first generation cloud server directly into Glance and relaunch that server in the open cloud. This is the first of many steps to help bring our customers over to our open cloud future.

There’s a look at how we’re using OpenStack and how Rackspace built its public cloud on it. It’s been an amazing journey so far and we look forward to continuing it with our customers and the OpenStack community.


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