Meet Racker Kevin Jackson – He Wrote The Book On OpenStack

Kevin Jackson recently joined Rackspace as a senior solutions architect. Kevin, who is based in the UK, has worked with OpenStack environments for nearly two years, and actually wrote the book on OpenStack – “OpenStack Cloud Computing Cookbook.” Here, we get to know more about Kevin, what drew him to OpenStack and how he became a Racker.

What brought you to Rackspace?
The majority of my professional career has been based in a busy hosting environment. Rackspace is not only seen as a leader in the hosting industry but it also helped pioneer OpenStack, which has consumed the last two years of my life. Moving to Rackspace was an easy decision for me.

Why Rackspace?
Rackspace is, undeniably, the world leader when it comes to OpenStack given its rich legacy, and this trend continues at a fast pace today as it continues to innovate, leading all sizes of business on a journey into public and private clouds. While Rackspace has taken a step back to allow OpenStack to flourish in the rapidly expanding community, Rackers still actively contribute, helping take the cloud software to new levels of innovation and functionality. All this has been wrapped up into products supported by Rackspace’s infamous Fanatical Support mantra – and this is clearly demonstrated by each and every Racker involved with OpenStack, meaning customers only get the best level of commitment and support available in the hosting industry.

Talk a little bit about your team.
It is a very experienced and immensely talented team working on Rackspace Private Cloud, Alamo, at a product architect and engineering level. Casting a wider net I get to work with some of the most fanatical thought leaders and evangelists on the OpenStack and cloud computing circuits who do an amazing job of promoting OpenStack around the world. I’ve not met a team more dedicated than the incredible and crazy but loveable folk working on OpenStack at Rackspace.

When and how did you first hear about OpenStack?
I first came across OpenStack around the Bexar release; back in February 2011, when I was tasked with looking at a cloud computing platform to migrate a portion of applications running in AWS back on-premise and ultimately support a website that receives well over 1 billion page impressions a month. In my previous role I evaluated (now CloudStack), Eucalyptus and OpenStack, and the decision to pursue OpenStack was made after demonstrating its potential to deliver what was required and the huge amount of support behind it.

What prompted you to write “OpenStack Cloud Computing Cookbook?”
In the early days of OpenStack, some of the tasks that we take for granted in the latest releases were not as easy to perform. Coupled with the fast pace of development, operational information seemed to be strewn across official documentation and so many blog posts that users had to piece together the information themselves. I was approached by the publishers to write the book after they saw my work on my own blog. At this stage I probably knew about a quarter of the content required for the book, but deciding to write the book made me discover and learn more about OpenStack than I would have naturally picked up during my work to set up OpenStack.

What’s your book about?
The book is structured in such a way that if you have a question on how to do something with OpenStack, there is a recipe – a series of repeatable steps – that takes you through the answer. This is synonymous with recipe/cookbooks that show you how to make bread or cakes by following the steps. The book is designed for people who have grasped the concepts of virtualization and are familiar with Linux and want to enhance their skills to enter the world of cloud computing with OpenStack.

Where can people buy your book?
The book is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble as well as on the publisher’s website, If there are any discounts or competitions I announce them on my Twitter feed (@itarchitectkev) and these relate to offers on

Where do you see OpenStack and Rackspace in five years?
There will be a lot more “Powered by OpenStack” software and appliances in five years. Software and hardware vendors will treat OpenStack as a de facto open standard platform that they will naturally develop and support drivers and applications for this stack. Rackspace-powered and managed clouds will span the globe both within people’s datacenters and in an extensive set of locations allowing people to float their applications to any OpenStack powered datacenter. Rackspace and OpenStack together will create a globally interconnected mesh of compute and storage that people will spin up locally, making it a natural choice when they require off-premise capabilities. Within five years, just as we say “virtualize first, physical second” now, people deploying applications will say “cloud first” and demand legacy goliath application suites to be able to be deployed in flexible environments. And given OpenStack’s impressive backers, these re-written legacy applications will be certified for OpenStack infrastructure. In five years, automation and self-healing infrastructures will be a fundamental requirement to differentiate cloud providers – users will expect to deploy an application and given certain parameters (cost, resilience, uptime, etc.) a broker will decide on where to deploy the application – this shouldn’t be an arduous task – it will be designed into OpenStack-powered clouds.

I also like to see some crazy innovation happening in this space in the next five years – there’s the possibility to have a public P2P arrangement of OpenStack-powered clouds that are aware of each other’s capabilities between different people’s datacenters. This allows for building a massively scalable suite of cloud infrastructure in the same way that BitTorrent is used today for sharing files efficiently – demonstrating OpenStack’s unique position in the industry as being a true open cloud standard.


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