Barclays turns to OpenStack to manage private cloud

Barclays is planning on wider adoption of OpenStack as upgrade of 100,000 servers commences

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Barclays is turning to open source cloud management platform OpenStack to automate control of its data centre infrastructure, ComputerworldUK has learned.

The OpenStack software platform was created by NASA cloud hosting provider Rackspace to automate provisioning and orchestration of large numbers of servers, before being open sourced and adopted by a range of companies, particularly service providers and web-scale firms such as Yahoo and Ebay.

It is increasingly being used by large enterprises with substantial IT expertise, and a range of financial services firms have begun to deploy the platform, with Wells Fargo, Bank of America, American Express, TD Bank and Spanish lender BBVA among its users. 

According to one person familiar with the matter, Barclays is also deploying OpenStack to manage its hardware as part of a major refresh of its IT systems. The bank - which has previously stood up an OpenStack-based private cloud to support its Pingit mobile payments app - is said to be in the midst of a five-year upgrade of its 100,000 servers. It plans to move to OpenStack as it replaces 20 percent of its server estate each year.

A Barclays spokesperson declined to comment.

Barclays is apparently in the second iteration of its OpenStack project, according to one source, having partnered with a service providers to deploy OpenStack on its on-premise private cloud, rather than relying solely on in-house expertise to build the platform.

A number of vendors offer their own supported software version which can be easier to upgrade and support in a production environment.

OpenStack claims to offer companies the ability to create and manage private clouds and easily connect to OpenStack-based public clouds, without the lock-in of proprietary cloud platforms. This means lower costs for licensing, for example.

It also provides enterprises with some of the agility of the public cloud, but without allowing sensitive data to leave their data centre - a primary concern for many banks. "Private cloud is desired by enterprises, and is deemed to be superior to public cloud by many users in many scenarios, especially those with high utilisation rates and stringent security/governance requirements," said Owen Rogers in a recent 451 Research report on OpenStack adoption.

However deployments have been difficult as the platform continues to mature, with challenges around access to skills, though many believe this will improve over time. Rogers commented: “As OpenStack matures and the pool of available engineering staff increases, buyers can expect the TCO of deploying OpenStack to improve.”