Technology such as OpenStack is fundamentally changing the way developers produce and deliver apps says the keynote speaker at the UK’s first OpenStack Day in Bristol.

Richard Haigh, head of delivery enablement at betting firm Paddy Power Betfair (above) showed how the open source technology completely changed how the company develops and delivers its apps. The company handles 135m daily transactions and 3.7bn API calls a day, leading to a 2.5TB daily log of data, as the betting platform is used by high-frequency traders.

With 500 app deployments a week, the pressure on the data centre infrastructure is huge.

OpenStack is a series of over 50 open-source projects that are combined in a release every six months and backed by companies such as Redhat, HP Enterprise, Dell EMC and IBM. HPE, for example, has a team of 30 engineers in Bristol working on the technology.

The company combined OpenStack from Redhat running on servers from HP with a software defined network on switches from Arista and flash memory storage. This allows all the resources in the data centre to be configured in code, all managed by the developers themselves through the GitLab code repository rather than relying on the ‘IT department’ to set things up.

“For the first time we could encode our network and storage as code”


Using open source was not a challenge, said Haigh. ”About half the company are engineers and we had experience with open source, and we didn’t want to lock ourselves into a three to 5-year agreement [with a vendor],” he said. “It took four weeks to develop a proof of concept for a representative OS platform that we could test the hell out of, and what we took from that was we could encode the firewall, and the provisioning of firewalls, as code – for the first time we could encode our network and storage as code and because its code we can source control it. All of this became incredibly important to us as networking as code gives us a self-service model.”

This also allows for more reliability and faster disaster recovery across the company’s three data centres. “This means code, infrastructure, networking and storage can be deployed in 7 minutes, especially for emergency backup, as everything is checked in as code,” said Haigh.

The latest version of OpenStack, called Newton, is released this week and teams are coming together at the end of this month to decide what will go into the next release, Ocata.

But this is not just about apps and app delivery. Major companies such as SAP, Siemens and AT&T are using the technology.

“Why would you put cloud underneath industrial control systems?”


“Why would you put cloud underneath industrial control systems?” said Jonathan Bryce, executive director of the OpenStack Foundation in his keynote which saw over 100 engineers at HPE in Bristol. “These systems are becoming more data driven and there’s a need to modify the data and modify the workflows and do it more rapidly than before.”  He points to AT&T running OpenStack in over 70 data centres now, as well as running SAP software at a major car maker, but says there are still challenges.

“We need to focus on making success easier to replicate,” he said.” We have been very focussed on making the technology more reliable and scalable but we need to make it easier to replicate. The technology is not the hardest part of this anymore – the culture in the organisation and how to change the mindset of the people that you work with is the hardest things, and we need to be sharing that information more.”

You can see the technical details of the Paddy Power Betfair experience with OpenStack on YouTube