Photobucket Pictures Its Future On OpenStack

Cisco's version of an OpenStack private cloud helps Photobucket ease implementation and management of networking issues.

Kistler and Clark were enticed by the Xen hypervisor, a version of which runs the Amazon Web Services cloud. But in the end, they leaned toward OpenStack's default hypervisor, KVM, which was more efficient in their virtualization bakeoffs than VMware's ESX Server or even Red Hat's version of KVM used in its Enterprise Virtualization suite.

"We stood up their version, but it didn't meet our internal benchmark as most performant," Clark said.

The Photobucket staff members are comfortable dealing with the update and compatibility issues of open-source code, and they like Cisco's commitment to support the OpenStack project. They liked the vigor of the project itself, with its many large-company backers and long list of contributors. "The DOM zero stuff in Xen" -- the need to establish Domain 0 with Xen before it can operate -- "looked out of date" in comparison, Clark said. Contributions to Xen looked "not as relevant as those coming in to KVM," and some of the staff's favorite Xen contributors had moved over to the KVM project.

Kistler and Clark still have reservations about the tendency of one OpenStack project to "solve the same problem" as another, leading to confusion over what should be implemented to rationalize operations. But again, they felt Cisco's OpenStack would have Cisco's guiding hand behind it, making choices for its UCS rack architecture.

Now Photobucket's IT staff is looking at deploying fresh OpenStack servers in two to three minutes, instead of the minimum two to three hours that it used to take. It is using only 60% of its UCS rack architecture, leaving 40% available to plug in more converged servers and networking. Meanwhile, it has consolidated 10-12 servers down to a UCS blade or 2u rackmount server.

Running Photobucket systems has gotten easier in the process. "Everyone's walking around with sort of a smile on their face, because they're not fighting to keep the infrastructure running," said Kistler. With his shop 60% virtualized today, he expects that figure to be 90% by this time next year, with more of it running on the OpenStack private cloud.

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