The Fanatical Faces Of Rackspace Private Cloud: Justin Shepherd

As one of the pillars of hybrid cloud, Rackspace Private Cloud started with a mission to build and operate private clouds powered by OpenStack in our data center, in a colocation facility or in a customer’s data center. In this weekly blog series, we’ll profile some of the key members of the Rackspace Private Cloud team to give you a glimpse into the inner workings of a team that’s helping to define and deliver the future of private and hybrid clouds.

Today we profile Rackspace Private Cloud Principal Architect Justin Shepherd. A Racker for eight years, Justin is a true ambassador of openness: you can find Justin traveling the globe talking about the powers of OpenStack and private cloud. We caught up with Justin recently to talk about the Rackspace, the cloud and OpenStack.

Tell me about your journey to cloud computing.
For a large portion of my career I was working under the traditional enterprise mind set; physical everything, big expensive storage arrays and hand-managed configurations. However, in 2006 I started hearing about these new on-demand services, providing resources with consumption billing.

The concept really intrigued me. So I started advising the companies I was working with on ways to make use of these new technologies. And as Rackspace started building more cloud services, I spent a lot of my time talking to customers all over Rackspace, helping them figure out how to adopt these new services. Prior to OpenStack, I focused mostly on the consumption side of the equation, but as soon as OpenStack started up I saw a chance to switch over to the building side of the equation. I started contributing to OpenStack during the Bexar development cycle and have continued ever since.

How did you end up at Rackspace?
Prior to Rackspace, I was working as a systems engineer at an environmental analytical laboratory in Lubbock, Texas. There were only two or three people in the IT department, and after a year or two we had run out of “interesting problems” to solve for the company. After I interviewed with Rackspace, I realized there was a never ending supply of “interesting problems” to solve for our customers. In addition, I would have the opportunity to work with a huge population of the best and the brightest in the field.

What do you love most about Rackspace?
Rackspace has an amazing mission and ethos; everyone is working together trying to make things better for Rackspace (not just their fiefdom). Most companies do not encourage you to speak up when you see things going the wrong way, but at Rackspace this behavior is the norm. Everyone at Rackspace really tries to live by the core values of the company.

What makes OpenStack and your specific position so exciting to you?
I get to work with some of the smartest people in the company and the industry. Working on something as game changing for Rackspace as OpenStack is amazing. You know you are doing something extremely important. On top of that, OpenStack covers so many problem domains; it makes it a lot of fun to contribute to all the different areas.

Where do you see OpenStack and private cloud in five years?
I see private cloud becoming a staple technology for businesses in the next five years. I see OpenStack leading the way on that transition. It will be amazing for businesses to have a common API to interact with both cloud infrastructure and physical infrastructure. I also look forward to the transition from managing systems to consuming services with things like DBaaS, DNSaaS, LBaaS and FWaaS.

Justin plans to attend OpenStack Summit Hong Kong in November. If you’re there, be sure to say “hello.”


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