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Who is Using OpenStack?

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PORTLAND. OpenStack is being deployed and used by organizations that many Americans know as household brand names. That’s the message coming from the OpenStack Summit where a conga line of big end users explained to capacity crowds why they chose OpenStack and how it is being used.

In a live demo on the keynote stage, Mark Muehl, senior VP of product engineering at Comcast, showed how his firm is using OpenStack. Muehl brought out a TV set-top box and showed Comcast’s new X1, TV viewing guide system. That system is all powered at the back-end by an OpenStack cloud.

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“We started our investigation into OpenStack about a year ago,” Muehl said.

Muehl explained that developing software in Comcast’s cable environment has been a very time consuming and difficult effort. All of the intelligence for the cable network sits in the set-top box that is in the consumer’s home, so there is little that Comcast was able to do from a development perspective.

“So we decided we need to change the paradigm,” Muehl said.

The paradigm change for Comcast comes in the form of a platform they call the X1. Instead of embedding all the intelligence in the set-top box, the intelligence is put in the cloud.

“With this platform, all of the communications that we’re sending back and forth from the set-top box to our network is going through stuff that is running on our OpenStack production cloud,” Muehl said.


Consumer electronics retailer BestBuy is using OpenStack to enable a continuous delivery cloud for

“Over the past year BestBuy has gone on a quest to re-architect our ecommerce platform,” Joel Crabb, chief architect of, said during a keynote at the OpenStack Summit. “Part that effort is to move our browse and search capability to the cloud.”

During the Thanksgiving 2012 holiday, Crabb noted that served 25 percent of its traffic off its new cloud service. He added that BestBuy’s older browse and search pages for product took between and 7 and 30 seconds to load. With the cloud architecture, the pages are now served in approximately 2.5 seconds.

Steve Eastham, director of web architecture for BestBuy explained that his company is using OpenStack now specifically to build the continuous delivery cloud (CDC) component of the next gen architecture. Eastham described the CDC as an innovation catalyst.

“All of our teams that are developing new NoSQL or caching platforms, now they have a place to go for self-service,” Eastham said. “Teams can go in and launch their own environments.”


Saran Mandair, Sr. Director of Infrastructure Engineering at PayPal, explained his companies usage of OpenStack in similar development terms as BestBuy. PayPal’s OpenStack cloud is all about enabling its developers to get a higher time to value for their effort.

Mandair noted that prior to moving to OpenStack, whenever a developer wanted to deploy something, it would require lot of design documents and different tools.

“What we wanted was an operating system for our entire infrastructure,” Mandair said. “Developers need compute, storage and infrastructure to deploy a service, they don’t care about the internal complexity.”

OpenStack, Best Buy

The Best Buy presentation at OpenStack

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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