The first event of its kind featured talks from CERN, Folksam, CityNetwork, Basefarm and more.

“Let’s meet up North!” was the rallying cry of the first OpenStack Day Nordic, which took place in Stockholm, Sweden. More than 300 people from the region who are evaluating OpenStack or building businesses with the technology heeded the call. Hot topics of the day included how OpenStack applies to mid-sized enterprises, compliance and regulated industries, high-powered computing and scientific research and monitoring for cloud operators.

The morning keynotes from Jonathan Bryce, Monty Taylor and Thierry Carrez talked about how the OpenStack community works, bringing together what might be considered competitors in the industry to collaborate around a common goal. They talked about key enterprise use cases to address the question of OpenStack in production and various infrastructure tools and community governance that support the maturing project.

Jan Van Eldik then caught us up on CERN’s continuing use of OpenStack, now running 190,000 cores. His team deployed Magnum this year, pushing their environment to support 2 million requests per second. Now they are looking at the Ironic bare metal project to manage both virtual and physical infrastructure via OpenStack. He said their biggest challenge is managing a variety of legacy hardware, because they are a true brownfield deployment. We also heard from two important new users in the region: Folksam, one of the largest insurance companies in Sweden, and Swedish National Infrastructure for Computing (SNIC), a research cloud available to all Swedish universities.

Folksam has strict requirements around data protection that make traditional public cloud environments untenable, but around 2013-2014, the company also realized they had to do more with less money. They needed to evaluate new architectures to support the vast amount of data they were storing and processing. For example, data is now available to analyze when and where car accidents occur, so cities can better plan traffic management. They also wanted to align their infrastructure strategy with their development strategy for a true DevOps environment.

Folksam realized they had four options: traditional VMware virtualization, public cloud, building a private cloud or using private cloud managed by a partner. They started down the path of building their own cloud, but realized it wasn’t core to their business. They decided instead to go with City Network, who offered them a community cloud that meets European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) standards with a mix of public and private cloud services. Roger Ewert of Folksam believes more insurance and financial services companies will be heading down this path and advised them to think about multi-cloud and hybrid cloud strategy, consider the cloud maturity of your own organization and plan time and effort to change the organization (not just implement the technology) before they get started.

Salman Toor spoke about his experience with the SNIC cloud, which is running in three different data centers (or regions) with shared authentication and a self-service dashboard. Each region based in a different city has autonomous capabilities, and in total the cloud supports 65 projects, including visualization/data analysis software Chipster, Galaxy and Proteomic. A year ago, they moved from CentOS to Ubuntu because they felt like there was a larger community of support. By the end of 2016, they expect to support 4,000 cores. One of the challenges Toor described is helping researchers understand
how to architect applications in the cloud to take full advantage of its distributed and ephemeral nature. His team put together a series of workshops to help with training, which are available on GitHub. He is interested in collaborating with the community and Scientific Working Group on this topic going forward.

The OpenStack ecosystem is definitely growing in the Nordic region. In addition to City Network, Elastx has a public cloud in Sweden, and Norwegian service provider Basefarm sent attendees to the event. Other companies IPnett, Cybercom, and Layer 8 IT services offer a variety of OpenStack services throughout Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden.

For an in-depth view into how Folksam is managing its insurance business in the cloud with City Network, check out their presentation at the OpenStack Summit Barcelona, taking place from October 25-28.

Cover Photo // CC BY NC