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Fidelity Is Investing in OpenStack for Private Clouds

The large brokerage firm Fidelity Investments is running private clouds based on the OpenStack open source environment with an eye toward eventually bursting to public Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) clouds.

Kevin Finn, group technology VP at Fidelity, on Wednesday gave the nod to the company's OpenStack initiative at the GigaOM Structure conference during an onstage interview with Rackspace CTO John Engates. Also on the panel was Jim O'Neill, CIO of HubSpot, a marketing services startup that is using OpenStack for private clouds.

While Finn didn't provide significant detail about Fidelity's OpenStack implementation, he indicated it was still early on. Finn did say Fidelity has participated in the open source collaboration efforts of the OpenStack Foundation and has attended its summits, the most recent one being held in Portland back in April.

"The OpenStack relationship is important because we like the community behind it and the broad support," Finn said during the panel discussion, which was webcast and is available on demand. "Right now it's geared more toward the public cloud space but we think there's an opportunity to possibly collaborate with other enterprises to deliver on these capabilities that we all need, like integration to back end common core systems."

For its part, HubSpot appears further along in its OpenStack deployment -- but then again, it doesn't have the vast legacy systems that Fidelity runs for its trading operations and online brokerage services. HubSpot is running hundreds of bare-metal OpenStack commodity servers and is getting every last bit of utilization out of its hardware, O'Neill said.

"We run hundreds of nodes, thousands of cores. It's approaching two petabytes of data. It's all API-driven," O'Neill said. "That's the beauty of OpenStack. If a developer needs to add 20 more nodes, they can go to a Web console or they run a Python script, and literally in five minutes in the network it's operational and doing its job."

Fidelity's work with OpenStack is also worth noting because the company has been an early adopter of various major technologies over the years. I recall meeting with the company's IT management 15 years ago at its Boston headquarters when then-CIO Donald Haile described an effort to use Web services technology to vastly reduce its server infrastructure.

While that might not sound noteworthy today, it was a big deal back in 1998. It was also notable because despite the fact that Fidelity is one of the largest mutual fund providers and runs one of the top online trading, 401k and pension plan operations, it's also one of the largest privately held companies.

How much Fidelity ultimately invests in OpenStack, and the cloud in general, remains to be seen. Also to be determined is the return Fidelity gets on whatever it puts into its cloud efforts. After all, as investment firms always warn investors, past performance doesn't guarantee future results.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 06/20/2013 at 12:49 PM


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