The Fanatical Faces Of Rackspace Private Cloud: Ryan Yard

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.

Meet Ryan Yard, Senior Manager for the Enterprise Architecture team that specializes in designing and implementing OpenStack-powered private clouds. Ryan was once a management consultant responsible for enterprise deployments at Red Hat. He is also a classically trained composer with a deep abiding passion for 20th Century classical music.  In fact, Ryan holds a Masters of Music in Film Scoring degree from NYU. If you’ve ever met Ryan, you probably remember him by his long dreadlocks, upbeat attitude and his ninja-like abilities to architect OpenStack-powered clouds.

Tell me about your journey to cloud computing.
I started with Linux in 1996. I wanted to build a 3D render farm and I had a bunch of Apple Macintosh systems lying around. I installed Yellow Dog Linux and I really had fun figuring out how to puzzle that all together. I picked up a bunch more once I started my first stint at Rackspace. I then moved to New York, got into management consulting, where we were solving lots of quantitative and statistical modeling questions using distributed systems. After my years as a management consultant, I started working on really large distributed systems helping to build HPC environments for financials, oil and gas and aerospace.

How did you end up at Rackspace?
I have had a circuitous route into cloud computing. I worked at Rackspace from 2000 to 2001, left for 12 years, spent eight years of my life as a management consultant, and came back.  I decided to move to Texas, and shortly after that, was reintroduced to Rackspace. I came in to meet the Private Cloud team; I was impressed with the vision, strategy, passion and mission. The chance to work on a team that is building clouds for some of the world’s largest organizations sounded like the right kind of challenge for me.

What do you love most about Rackspace?
I love the bottom-up culture, customer focus and drive for world-class service.

What are the most important traits/skills you look for when bringing on new team members?
I am looking for people, that I call “T-shaped” – very broad in experience, but able to deep-dive in a particular area. My team has to take a business driver and turn it into a technical solution. This skill requires a combination of business acumen and deep technical knowledge; two traits that are not commonly found together.

What makes your specific position with OpenStack-powered private clouds so exciting to you?
I love talking with customers to understand how they are bending technology to their will. It is always exciting to hear about the amazing innovations that are happening at the bleeding edge of the industry.

Where do you see OpenStack and private clouds in five years?
I would love to see computing sold in a commodity market place, and possibly traded by brokerage houses. It would be amazing to see OpenStack as the underlying medium of exchange.

You can meet Ryan — and his dreadlocks—at OpenStack Summit in Hong Kong November 4 through November 8. 

And be sure to check out other Fanatical Faces of the Rackspace Private Cloud. Last week, we featured Rackspace Open Cloud Architect Kenneth Hui.


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