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CeBit 2015: Co-founder Chris Kemp on OpenStack's beginnings and the future of Cloud

Allan Swann | May 8, 2015
Former NASA CTO and co-founder of OpenStack, Chris Kemp, took the stage at CeBit Australia 2015 to challenge proprietary Cloud models and the virtues of an open standards Cloud environment.

"OpenStack was to a datacentre, to what Linux was to a workstation in the 80s and 90s."

Already the large scale successes include: the CERN particular physics laboratory, which boasts 150,000 compute cores, and Wal-Mart, which just announced that OpenStack will be powering its entire ecommerce infrastructure.

"So this is a project that didn't exist five years ago, that a small bunch of hackers at NASA put together, and because we decided to open source the technology, we got every major IT company throwing their weight behind it. Now NASA doesn't need to build it anymore, it can buy it from any number of different vendors that are selling products competitively in the free market.

"What I learned from all this is that it's not about the code, it's about the value that the code provides. There is so much more value in the code that we created becoming available to everyone, becoming a standard in the industry, that far exceeded the value of it staying a proprietary piece of software inside NASA. It's about freedom and innovation."

Much like Cloud as a whole, Kemp believes that we need to start seeing software as a means to an end, rather than an asset paid for. It's about the value add on top of that service. The economics have fundamentally changed, hence why NASA never locked the system down and asked for license fees.

"It flies in the face of modern economics. In terms of scarcity and demand, it's effectively about negative scarcity.

"We're not buying software, we're benefiting from software, we're using software and the applications live in the Cloud. Facebook, Uber, AWS,, Office365 they're all powered by massive hyperscale computing infrastructure.

"These applications are now pervasive in our lives, they're on our PCs, our tablets, on our TVs, our cars. In that sense, there's no real value in the technology that Facebook uses to build their servers, or their analytics platform. That's why now everyone open sources their technology, if you can get more people using your technology, it provides more value."

Effectively, the whole world is becoming a digital service.

"If we start to think about the future, and the world of tomorrow, we're really starting to see companies become service providers for the thing that they do. If you're Amazon, you're trying to optimise your supply chain, how to optimise the placement of warehouses, how to optimise pricing, margin profiles.

"Most banks are largely huge IT shops, they are just trying to understand the implications of various factors in the market, playing out complex algorithms.

"Companies will focus on a small handful of things that make them who they are, and they will consume everything else as a service from other companies who make it their business to create those goods. It no longer makes sense to host your own email, your own accounting system, your own ERP or HR systems."


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