Rackspace recently acquired Anso Labs, which builds the private cloud for NASA. They are also very tightly woven into the world of OpenStack, and we wanted to learn more about what that is and how it’s being used.
“What we work on is the orchestration of lots of virtual devices,” explains Jesse Andrews, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Anso Labs, LLC. “What cloud is about doing is automating a lot of the tasks that you would normally have to do when you’re installing a system.” For example, “if you’re an enterprise, you have to go through procurement, you have to go through billing, you have to go through charge backs, and then you have to do the actual deployment of the system—installing the OS, setting it up, setting it up on your network and connecting it, controlling who has access to what.” Private cloud allows you to apply the same type of automating tools to this process as are available in the public cloud.
NASA is a very interesting place to explore managing computing resources and private clouds, because they have such dynamic computing needs. For example, a satellite orbiting Earth might need to perform a huge data transfer just once in every 24-hour period. That data set needs to be processed, which requires a tremendous amount of computing power. But once the data have been processed, you want that computing power to be available to another project or mission. Cloud computing automates much of that process, dramatically increasing its efficiency.
Not all of NASA’s work has to do with space. During the gulf oil spill, NASA flew a plane over the spill daily. “[The plane] had this amazing spectographer attached to it, and it would bring back tons and tons of data,” explains Soo Choi, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Anso Labs. “But how do they store it? How do they process it and show the difference in the oil spill between one day ago, to a week ago, to a month ago. All of that [data] need to be housed somewhere and processed. Without the cloud, they would have had to go out and spend months trying to build that infrastructure to process that data, so that’s a perfect example of where a private cloud works really well.”
One of the advantages of OpenStack is the hybrid cloud, which allows applications to run on a private cloud, a public cloud or multiple public clouds hosted by different service providers. This provides users with ultimate flexible regarding how they deploy their systems. A company might choose a private cloud for security or performance reasons but later move to the public cloud for certain applications that generate tremendous user interest. “You might have some information that you’ve processed on your [private] cloud…that you want to share with the general population,” explains Choo. Imagine Mashable runs a story about this information, which generates a wealth of public interest—more interest than your private cloud is built to handle. “Instead of ramping up your infrastructure…you would burst into the public cloud…where you have infrastructure right there for that short period of time” during which the public interest requires greater computing resources to serve.