Many people have heard the term OpenStack before, but few know what it really means. Andreas Nemeth is Head of Technology & Operations of the Innovation Business Applications & Cloud Services Group at Deutsche Telekom. He has been working with OpenStack for almost five years and has developed internal cloud platforms based on OpenStack together with his team.
Find out more about OpenStack, the operating system of the cloud, in this interview. Our expert explains what this system is all about and what it means for the future of Telekom, and what the benefits of OpenStack are in comparison to Amazon’s cloud services.
Mr. Nemeth, is it misleading to have the impression that OpenStack has many and sometimes highly complex definitions?
Andreas Nemeth: Yes, that’s true, because OpenStack has different interpretations depending on your point of view or semantics. On the one hand it is a project, but on the other hand it is also an infrastructure, but it is definitely a complex issue.
How would you personally explain OpenStack?
Andreas Nemeth: I always try to explain it using a metaphor. To the cloud, OpenStack is what an operating system is for the PC. While Windows or Linux operating systems manage individual resources on a computer or server, OpenStack performs this task for resources stored on multiple computers, which together represent the platform of a cloud environment. To put it simply, OpenStack is an operating system for cloud infrastructures.
So there are other operating systems for clouds besides OpenStack?
Andreas Nemeth: Exactly. Just as different operating systems are used with PCs, for example Windows or Linux, the same applies to the cloud. The most popular cloud systems are from Amazon, Google and now also from Microsoft. To be precise, Amazon offers Amazon Web Services and Amazon Elastic Cloud Computing, abbreviated as AWS and EC2. Google’s operating system is called Google Compute Engine, and Microsoft’s cloud computing platform is Microsoft Azure. The difference with OpenStack is that it is an open source system. To remain in the metaphor: OpenStack is of similar significance for the cloud as Linux is for servers.
What are the advantages of this open source option?
Andreas Nemeth: To put it in a nutshell, open source gathers a group of developers who work together on the source code. Every developer has access to the OpenStack code, so they can use it or change it, and every change has to be made available to the other developers. It is precisely this community approach that makes OpenStack so strong.
How did OpenStack come about in the first place?
Andreas Nemeth: The challenge in the cloud environment is that Amazon is the absolute market leader in IaaS and PaaS (Infrastructure as a Service and Platform as a Service), and this leadership is formidable. A study has shown that Amazon has the same market share as the next 10 competitors combined, including companies such as Google, Microsoft and IBM. There have been various approaches to developing an alternative platform for companies in order to counter the problem of this monopoly, and the project that ultimately prevailed was OpenStack.
And numerous renowned companies are now involved in the project.
Andreas Nemeth: That’s right. OpenStack has practically become an industry standard. Many large companies have not only adapted it, but also continued to develop it, including Telekom partners Cisco and Huawei, as well as companies such as HP, IBM and SAP. All of these big players have contributed to OpenStack and created a platform that companies can now obtain from distributors to build their own private cloud.
How does OpenStack benefit customers when compared to Amazon’s market-leading services?
Andreas Nemeth: In particular, the cloud platforms that Deutsche Telekom is developing together with its partners meet data security requirements that are not met by an Amazon cloud, including cloud infrastructures hosted in Deutsche Telekom’s German data centers that comply with German and European data privacy requirements. This is not the case with the Amazon cloud. The problem with Amazon is that it is subject to American jurisdiction. We offer a secure alternative to companies that do not want to store their confidential data on American servers.
How does Deutsche Telekom use OpenStack in practice?
Andreas Nemeth: We offer various cloud stacks to our customers, but there are also flexible and highly scalable infrastructures based on OpenStack, which we use internally at Deutsche Telekom and offer to our partners. The partners use these infrastructures to operate applications that we in turn offer based on the SaaS model (Software as a Service).
What is Deutsche Telekom’s strategy with OpenStack?
Andreas Nemeth: We are pursuing a multi-cloud strategy at Telekom, which means that we offer various cloud stacks from manufacturers such as VMware and Microsoft, but also from partners who rely on OpenStack. Examples include the Open Telekom Cloud with our partner Huawei, DSI Intercloud with Cisco Systems and AppAgile, which is based on Red Hat OpenShift. We at Telekom view OpenStack as a great opportunity to modernize our internal infrastructure and make it cloud-ready. In collaboration with partners, we are committed to offering German cloud infrastructures to our customers in the SME sector. Our goal is to support SMEs in their digital transformation with secure cloud solutions hosted in Germany.