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Ocado’s OpenStack private cloud ensures low-latency connectivity for warehouse robotics

Matthew Finnegan | May 29, 2017
Computerworld UK speaks to Ocado Technology's head of infrastructure, Chris Dabrowski about its warehouse robotics systems.

"We are a big fan of 'big data' analysis," says Dabrowski. "We pump out huge amounts of data from every aspect of our workflows and technologies and systems of monitoring, and the bot data is captured locally and then proxied through our systems up to the cloud for further analysis."

The use of OpenStack is part of the company's move away from using off-the-shelf software and adopt open source tools more widely. This includes Apache Tomcat, Kubernetes, Docker, Django, CoreOS and NGINX. It is also using Google's open source TensorFlow tools for machine learning projects.

"OpenStack aligns our strategy and philosophy of using more open source technologies. So when we wanted to revamp our stack entirely, we went as far as we could to use external community projects, rather than commercial off the shelf ones. We felt the open source nature allowed us to add features and modify them to our requirements more easily than commercial software provides.

"Our older, initial deployments of our customer fulfilment centres, they were originally built 15 or so years ago. They were cutting edge at the time as enterprise systems. We had a mixture of Oracle, VMware, NetApp. All the enterprise systems which were the current flavour of the month," he says.

"Those have moved on and the industry has advanced in terms of having better, more agile, more flexible, lower cost, dynamic, self managed systems, and so we have moved with that, pushing the boundaries as we go along."


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