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More Clarity On PayPal’s Infrastructure–VMware Versus OpenStack

Last week when I wrote a post detailing PayPal‘s move to 100 percent OpenStack in its infrastructure, I caused howls of protest from VMware. The protests were understandable, partly because the situation is more complex than one would initially think but also because VMware VMW +0.11% is in a tricky position. It is certainly unpalatable having commentators shine a light on the fact that solutions like OpenStack create challenges for their existing lucrative revenue streams.

Many challenged my assumptions and instructed me in no uncertain terms that VMware remains a central part of PayPal’s infrastructure spread and that the OpenStack announcement meant very little in the scheme of things. I didn’t agree with their assessment but wanted to reach back out to PayPal for further clarification.

It’s taken awhile, but PayPal spokespeople provided me with some detailed answers to my questions which should clarify things a little bit for all. Of course it won’t satisfy everyone, and I suspect my warm welcome at VMware headquarters might have just dropped a few degrees, but I believe the PayPal story indicates a broader change in enterprise IT that will impact upon other vendors too – Cisco, Citrix, Microsoft and many others face the same existential threats.

Clearly VMware is still a part of what PayPal does but, and this is the critical point, the importance of that part is reducing in relative terms. So here are the questions and answers regarding PayPal’s use of OpenStack.

A – The private cloud for Web/API application will be migrating to 100% on OpenStack.

Q – How big is the physical infrastructure running the OpenStack cloud (how many physical servers)?
A – Approximately 8,500 physical servers.

Q – Is both PayPal’s and eBay’s front end infrastructure now converted to OpenStack?
A – eBay’s EBAY -0.97% and PayPal’s front-end infrastructure is running on OpenStack. While eBay has been running on OpenStack for some time and is still in the process of migrating to it.

Q – Is the OpenStack private cloud is shared infrastructure for both eBay and PayPal?
A – Our deployment across eBay and PayPal are separate instances, but use the same OpenStack code and tools. The infrastructure is deployed across multiple Availability zones and geographical locations, and is designed for multi-tenancy, i.e. environments across business units are logically isolated.Is PayPal using

Q – Is PayPal using as much VMware virtualization software today as it did in 2011 or has there been a reduction?
A – There has been a reduction on the compute virtualization front, but VMware remains core in our network virtualization.

Q – As a practical matter, how much of PayPal data centers function as an OpenStack cloud?
A – A good portion of PayPal data centers function as an OpenStack cloud. There are certain legacy workloads running on physical servers and are in the midst of migrating to cloud.

Q – Could you provide a rough approximation of the percentage of PayPal data centers that are primarily stateless, frontend OpenStack versus stateful database and other legacy systems outside of OpenStack?
A – Approximately 65% stateless vs 35% stateful. Most of these are on OpenStack while a small percentage run on physical servers.

Q – If VMware was indeed replaced with OpenStack, why?
A – PayPal is focused on delivering agile platforms that seamlessly scale across multiple cloud environments. Our initiative with OpenStack is intended to enable agility, availability and choice to accelerate innovation. With OpenStack, PayPal has more control over customization and more choice in the vendors it uses for its hybrid cloud environment.

Q – Did PayPal create its own OpenStack cloud or did it work with an OpenStack vendor? If the latter, who’s the vendor?
A – PayPal created its own OpenStack cloud.