Asked about the dividing line between the VMware part of the data center and OpenStack's, Mandair indicated there is no hard and fast boundary. PayPal is still implementing and experimenting with some OpenStack modules to see which ones move it toward a more automated data center. The same might be said for the VMware product line.
VMware's networking team, which came with the acquisition of Nicira, is now a principal contributor to OpenStack virtualized networking. What will PayPal use as the basis for virtualized networking -- VMware's NSX platform or OpenStack's Neutron Project? The answer is PayPal will figure that out as both offerings develop and gain greater maturity.
One of the attractions of OpenStack is the way it can be engineered to work with different network management systems that plug into the Neutron platform. NSX is likely to be one of them, given VMware's involvement in the networking project. That will give PayPal a list of options rather than an either-or choice.
In addition, PayPal likes the fact that it can work with the OpenStack code, innovate something on top of it, and then contribute the code back to the community to make the cloud project more full-functioned. It did that with the OpenStack Nova compute code, when it sought features that weren't available in its scheduler. It wanted to schedule operations across multiple data centers and created the code to do so. It became part of the Grizzly release, giving PayPal a sense of how OpenStack wasn't only something new to learn but also something new that it could help shape.
It launched its OpenStack pilot 10 months ago and ran into problem using Nova. It posted a query to an OpenStack bulletin board, "and we had 10 answers in an hour. We had misconfigured the Nova scheduler on our side," Mandair noted.
The experience solidified PayPal's decision to use an OpenStack overlay in its data center. "That validated from our point of view, how many passionate community members were out there," he said.
PayPal can't develop everything itself but when it wishes to produce something new, it wants a platform on which to produce and deploy it faster than it's been able to do before. "We want to get to the software-defined data center," he said, for the programmatic control and automation that the name suggests. At the same time, PayPal wants to operate it and continue development on it in its own way and for its own purposes.
PayPal may take everything VMware has to offer as the virtualization leader. But at some point, it will set a limit and bring its own expertise to bear on how it proceeds into a combined virtualized data center and private cloud operation. Mandair calls it a "hybrid" approach but there's no public cloud component. He means joint operation of VMware proprietary code with OpenStack open source code.
It's PayPal's way of adjusting to the future. Get to the software-defined data center as fast as you can, but don't lose control of what you can do with it.