Verizon and NASA Double Down on Red Hat OpenStack

As the OpenStack Summit kicks off, Red Hat reveals some major customer wins as well as a new milestone for trained professionals.


The OpenStack Austin Summit gets under way today in Austin, Texas, and with it comes news of continuing momentum among some big-name organizations. Verizon is announcing a major OpenStack cloud networking milestone, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory reveals it is using Red Hat's OpenStack Platform, and Red Hat now claims to have trained 10,000 IT professionals on OpenStack.

Verizon today is formally announcing the completion of its OpenStack network function virtualization (NFV) deployment across five U.S data centers. Verizon is working with Big Switch Networks, Dell and Red Hat to enable the NFV deployment with OpenStack. The effort first began in 2015 and took nine months. It involves more than 50 server racks' worth of hardware spread across the five data centers.

The Verizon OpenStack deployment effort is the largest that Red Hat has seen for NFV, according to Radhesh Balakrishnan, general manager of virtualization and OpenStack at Red Hat. The total financial value of the deployment is not being publicly disclosed.

Verizon isn't the only carrier to embrace OpenStack; AT&T is also using OpenStack as it moves toward virtualizing its network operations.

"From an NFV perspective, clearly every large service provider is looking at OpenStack," Balakrishnan told eWEEK. "One of the reasons why Verizon chose us is because we have deep partnerships with both Dell and Big Switch."

Based on feedback from Verizon, Red Hat has done product-level integration with Big Switch to help enable full carrier scale, Balakrishnan said. Red Hat also has a long standing partnership and co-engineering effort with Dell for OpenStack. Last week, Red Hat announced the latest version of its OpenStack Platform, while Dell announced its OpenStack Cloud version 5 update, based on Red Hat.

Balakrishnan added that Verizon has a number of requirements around IPv6 addressing, Secure Sockets Layer/Transport Layer Security (SSL/TLS) encryption and high availability that Red Hat helped to implement in a way that is also upstream with the open-source OpenStack community. As such, rather than Verizon's NFV deployment simply being a configuration or services engagement, OpenStack as a whole can now benefit from some of Verizon's OpenStack efforts.


NASA is no stranger to OpenStack, being one of the founders of the open-source cloud effort alongside Rackspace back in 2010. NASA—and specifically its Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)—however, does not build its own OpenStack distribution. Rather, NASA JPL is now making use of Red Hat's OpenStack Platform. While Red Hat is officially announcing NASA JPL as a customer win today, the reality is that the engagement isn't a new one. At the OpenStack Vancouver Summit in 2015, Jonathan Chiang, IT chief engineer at NASA JPL, gave a keynote about how his organization is using OpenStack.

"Red Hat's engagement with NASA is now a little north of 18 months," Balakrishnan admitted.

He noted that NASA has tried a range of OpenStack options from different vendors as well as trying to roll its own OpenStack distribution, adding that NASA came to the conclusion that there is value in having a standardized OpenStack distribution from a leading provider. In terms of the timing for revealing that NASA is using the Red Hat OpenStack Platform, Balakrishnan said it's because the NASA OpenStack deployment is now in full production.

What's also noteworthy about the NASA JPL deployment is that it is being used in conjunction with an Amazon Web Services (AWS) deployment to help NASA when additional capacity is needed. Balakrishnan noted that it's not all that uncommon for organizations to use both AWS and OpenStack.


While big customer wins are important, a linchpin for nearly any type of enterprise technology is having skilled IT professionals who can manage a given technology. To that end, Red Hat announced a new milestone for its OpenStack training effort, with approximately 10,000 people trained to date.

Red Hat is no stranger to IT training, and it has long been a cornerstone of Red Hat's overall go-to-market efforts, including the Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA) and the Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) designations.

"Expanding the number of trained professionals definitely helps in the broad-based adoption of OpenStack," Balakrishnan said.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.