4 Fantastic OpenStack Lessons From Yahoo

Mitch Wagner
4/25/2017
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OpenStack's and Yahoo's reputations are both taking a beating lately. Critics say the same thing about both: that they've failed to live up to their promise.

And yet, while Yahoo disappoints Wall Street, and has suffered security problems, a billion users -- literally a billion -- rely on the company's Mail, Finance, Sports and other services. (See US Indictment Says Russian Spies Were Behind Yahoo Hack, Yahoo's Marissa Mayer Gets $23M Kiss-Off, Another Hack Announced by Yahoo and Verizon Knocks $350M off the Price of Yahoo.)

And Yahoo relies on OpenStack to deliver those services. Which should come as no surprise -- even OpenStack's staunchest critics agree it runs well at hyperscale; where OpenStack has failed, they say, is in its initial vision of providing a platform that can replace Amazon Web Services Inc. (AWS) for most enterprises, who lack the resources of hyperscale providers, like Yahoo. (Oddly, OpenStack defenders say the same thing, choosing to emphasize the amount of liquid in the glass rather than its half-emptiness.) (See VMware Damns OpenStack With Faint Praise, Rackspace: OpenStack's Death Is #FakeNews, Mirantis Pivots as OpenStack Loses 'Wow Factor' and OpenStack: Small Pond, but the Big Fish Love It.)

Yahoo shared its OpenStack lessons in a recent blog post -- on Tumblr, naturally, which Yahoo owns and operates: Operating OpenStack at Scale.

Among the lessons Yahoo says it learned:

A successful private cloud needs to hide complexity
Users and developers shouldn't have to think about what's going on with the infrastructure, according to the blog post signed by James Penick, cloud architect and Gurpreet Kaur, product manager, for Yahoo.

"It must simultaneously handle constant organic traffic growth, unanticipated spikes, a multitude of hardware vendors, and discordant customer demands," Yahoo says. "The depth of this complexity only increases with the age of the business, leaving a private cloud operator saddled with legacy hardware, old network infrastructure, customers dependent on legacy operating systems, and the list goes on. These are the foundations of the horror stories told by grizzled operators around the campfire."

Provide infrastructure-as-a-service from a centralized team
"An a-la-carte-IaaS, where each user is expected to manage their own control plane and inventory, just isn't sustainable at scale," Yahoo says. Multiple teams duplicate effort and "removes the opportunity for improved synergy with all levels of the business." A single, centralized team collaborates with the supply chain, data center site operations, finance, and the engineering teams who are the IaaS customers.


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Developers love instant access to compute resources
"It empowers our engineers to innovate, prototype, develop, and quickly iterate on ideas," Yahoo says. "No longer is a developer reliant on a static and costly development machine under their desk."

Start at the bottom and think about the underlying hardware
Think about the hardware needs for the services you're running. For example, databases have intense I/O needs. Sounds obvious, right? "Yet many deployers skimp on the hardware," Yahoo says. "The performance of the whole cluster is bottlenecked by the DB I/O. By thinking ahead you can save yourself a lot of heartburn later on."

Yahoo shares plenty more insights and lessons in its post, which you can read here: Operating OpenStack at Scale.

— Mitch Wagner Follow me on Twitter Visit my LinkedIn profile Visit my blog Friend me on Facebook Editor, Enterprise Cloud News

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Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/29/2017 | 7:00:56 PM
Re: Nice to see Yahoo is so open about its experience...
> AOL admittedly had a built-in expiration date because it relied on dialup technology

This seems like a dubious proposition to me, considering EarthLink (now Windstream) -- among many other providers -- was based on dialup, and has managed to pivot quite well into cutting-edge techs like SDWAN.
maryam@impact
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[email protected],
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/28/2017 | 10:05:43 PM
Re: Verizon effect
It will probably not see the resurrection that Apple saw but some of its tech may live on.
mhhfive
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mhhfive,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/28/2017 | 4:04:37 PM
Re: Verizon effect
The same could have been said for AOL and it's still sorta alive and kicking. Yahoo isn't dead yet. But it's close, it's like Apple in 1997.
Michelle
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Michelle,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/28/2017 | 2:51:14 PM
Re: Verizon effect
I don't see a new life for Yahoo. So much has gone wrong for them over the years, I don't see how they could recover. The brand has suffered much.
maryam@impact
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[email protected],
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/28/2017 | 12:12:37 PM
Re: Verizon effect
 

I am sure they anticipated the dud technology when they priced the acquisition some of it was tech based some of it was just for the access to base they had acquired. Time will be the test of how it plays out in the marketplace and if they synergy is achieved.
JohnMason
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JohnMason,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/28/2017 | 12:03:10 PM
Re: Verizon effect
@Scott: About Verizon using OpenStack, this is from their website:

http://www.verizon.com/about/news/verizon-launches-industry-leading-large-openstack-nfv-deployment

"Verizon has completed the industry's largest known Network Function Virtualization OpenStack cloud deployment across five of its U.S. data centers."

 

 
JohnMason
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JohnMason,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/28/2017 | 11:59:03 AM
Re: Verizon effect
"is the cloud industry already too cluttered for yet another cloud service the size of Yahoo"

It may be cluttered but I don't know if it is TOO cluttered for yet another cloud service. Aren't these the salad days for the industry? That is, isn't the market still unsaturated, and still (fairly) new?
mhhfive
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mhhfive,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/28/2017 | 11:40:41 AM
Re: Verizon effect
I'm sure some Yahoo properties will die. Yahoo!'s streaming media efforts are already dying or dead. I think Katie Couric has moved on. Community had a rabid fan base that just didn't follow the show to Yahoo!'s streaming video site which was slow and laggy and required an annoying app download.
maryam@impact
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[email protected],
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/28/2017 | 11:07:50 AM
Re: Verizon effect
They might if there is a buyer but some properties may just die a natural technology death because the market competitors are stronger and better positioned time will tell.
mhhfive
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mhhfive,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/26/2017 | 12:55:51 PM
Re: Verizon effect
I think Verizon will try to sell off Yahoo!'s properties like Flickr that don't quite fit with Verizon's other brands and services. Maybe Tumnlr will survive alongside AOL's media blogs in some way to prove Oath's ad network for attracting eyeballs and getting engagement.
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