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OpenStack and the Mysteries of the Universe

By Sean Michael Kerner (Send Email)
Posted November 4, 2014


PARIS - OpenStack has emerged in the last four years to be one of the leading ways that enterprises can leverage their server capacity to build cloud infrastructure. OpenStack is also being used with great impact at CERN, quite literally helping to unlock the mysteries of the universe.

In a keynote at the OpenStack Summit in Paris, Tim Bell, Infrastructure Services Manager at CERN, detailed how his organization has embraced OpenStack in its efforts. CERN OpenStack Bell helps to manage the IT infrastructure that analyzes data from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), which is trying to answer some of the most puzzling questions in the Universe.

"We're worried about dark matter," Bell said. "We're concerned where all the anti-matter has gone."

Bell added that physicists also believe there to be other particles not yet observed, including gravitons that exist within the four dimensions of the known universe.

The challenge of trying to figure out some of the answers to those questions involves servers and lots and lots of data.

CERN will be consume 400 Petabytes of data by 2023 and needs a very scalable platform. When CERN started to look for solutions, it became clear that open-source and more specifically, OpenStack, would be a good option to try out.

Bell said that CERN got started with the OpenStack Cactus release in 2011 and brought their deployment into production with the Grizzly release in 2013.

CERN now has four OpenStack clouds running on the recent Icehouse release. The largest cloud deployment includes 70,000 compute cores spread across approximately 3,000 servers. The other three OpenStack instances have approximately 45,000 cores in total.

From an open-source perspective, CERN is actively contributing all relevant code to the upstream OpenStack project. CERN actually played a pivotal role in helping to build out multi-cloud federation capabilities that are now present in OpenStack.

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

Fundamentally for Bell, the lesson of open-source and OpenStack is to "stand on the shoulders of giants" and to build on top of existing innovations.

"When you contribute code to OpenStack, remember along with helping OpenStack, you're helping us to understand the universe and what it is made off," Bell said.


Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at ServerWatch and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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