Soft-Hardware: The Foundation of Cloud 2.0



“…software is eating the world.” Many people have heard this phrase, first coined by Marc Andreesen, in 2011. It is now a well-understood phenomenon. Less well understood, is why this phenomenon is facing headwinds, brought about by the decline of Moore’s Law.

We all want ever-smarter, more-pervasive, and lower cost computing. We want a world with self-driving cars and five-dollar genome sequences, with instant answers to our most complex questions about the health of our bodies and businesses. These things may be born-in or powered-by a cloud, but not one that exists, today. For the scientists, researchers, engineers, analysts, and other creative minds, today’s clouds are not enough… they are not powerful enough, are too costly, and lack critical functions and tools.

This is a big problem with big opportunities. The solutions will be powered by new processing, memory, and storage elements, with new software interfaces. And these solutions must operate flexibly with the existing operating systems, software, and tools already in use on today’s cloud.

Put together, we call these solutions “Soft-Hardware” — powered by OpenPOWER, Open Compute, OpenStack, and things like CAPI. The intent of this session is to reveal the latest about what Rackspace and its partners are doing to bring this technology to the cloud and to developers and end-users, new and old.

This session will talk about progress, problems, opportunities, and insights that Rackspace has gained on this journey (including updates on the Barreleye server announced at OPF Summit 2015, and what’s next). By the end, the audience will have a clearer understanding of how Soft-Hardware will come to life on clouds, how individual members can be a part of the journey, and ways to profit in the process.


Aaron Sullivan is a Senior Director and Distinguished Engineer at Rackspace, focused on infrastructure strategy.

He spends most of his time working on next generation server technology, designing infrastructure that powers Rackspace’s products and services, and supporting the personal growth and capabilities of Rackspace’s developers and engineers. Aaron also frequently represents Rackspace as a public speaker, writer, and commentator.

Aaron also serves with the Open Compute Project.  He has been involved with Open Compute since near its inception, and is serving his second term as an OCP Incubation Committee member.

Aaron previously spent time at GE, SBC, and AT&T. Over the last 18 years, he’s touched more technology than he cares to talk about. When he’s not working, he enjoys reading science and history, spending time with his wife and children, and a little solitude.