Life at the Intersection: OpenPOWER, Open Compute, and the Future of Cloud Software & Infrastructure



  1. Provide Rackspace’s a point of view about what “the Cloud” needs from OpenPOWER, OCP, and developers in major software initiatives (Open Stack, Linux, Hypervisors, etc).
  2. Share observations about working cross functionally amongst development communities, especially ones that develop as-a-Service platforms. How best to engage?  Common mistakes.  Success stories.  What’s the give and take?
  3. Share what Rackspace (as a case study) plans to achieve now, and over the next few years, with OpenPOWER and Open Compute.


Open hardware has the potential to disrupt the datacenter and the world of software development in very positive ways.  OpenPOWER takes that potential a few steps further, both in the core system, and with technologies like CAPI.  These innovations raise the possibility of performance and efficiency improvements to a magnitude not seen for a long time.

The potential is there, but how do we drive adoption?  From platform developers?  From software developers?  From communities like OpenStack?  From service providers?  From end users?  And if we’re going to do it in the Open, that brings both big opportunities, and big challenges.  How do we manage that?

This talk will explore past experience and current impressions of someone who has done development work at the intersection of OpenStack and Open Compute for a few years.  It will cover his experience working with teams building & integrating hardware and software, for large scale as-a-Service deployments of OpenStack Nova and Ironic on Open Compute hardware.

It will also cover his take on the state of open hardware and software development today, and future frontiers.  He’ll present his thoughts and experiences getting as-a-Service developers to move further down the hardware stack, enabling the use of OpenPOWER features and technologies for the masses.


Aaron Sullivan is a Senior Director and Distinguished Engineer at Rackspace, focused on infrastructure strategy. Aaron joined Rackspace’s Product Development organization in late 2008, in an engineering role, focused on servers, storage, and operating systems. He moved to Rackspace’s Supply Chain/Business Operations organization in 2010, mostly focused on next generation storage and datacenters. He became a Principal Engineer during 2011 and a Director in 2012, supporting a variety of initiatives, including the development and launch of Rackspace’s first Open Compute platforms. He became a Senior Director and Distinguished Engineer in 2014.

These days, he spends most of his time working on next generation server technology, designing infrastructure for Rackspace’s Product and Practice Areas, and supporting the growth and capabilities of Rackspace’s Global Infrastructure Engineering team. He also frequently represents Rackspace as a public speaker, writer, and commentator. He was involved with the Open Compute Project (OCP) since its start at Rackspace. He became formally involved in late 2012. He is Rackspace’s lead for OCP initiatives and platform designs. Aaron is serving his second term as an OCP Incubation Committee member, and sponsors the Certification & Interoperability (C&I) project workgroup. He supported the C&I workgroup as they built and submitted their first test specifications. He has also spent time working with the OCP Foundation on licensing and other strategic initiatives.

Aaron previously spent time at GE, SBC, and AT&T. Over the last 17 years, he’s touched more technology than he cares to talk about. When he’s not working, he enjoys reading science and history, spending time with his wife and children, and a little solitude.


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