Imad Sousou: The Future of Linux and Intel in the New Connected World

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Imad Sousou, IntelFrom new cloud platforms, to changes in virtualization and container technologies, to how data is stored and transmitted, every innovation in the data center has a Linux-based or open source component, says Imad Sousou vice president of the Software and Services Group and general manager of the Intel Open Source Technology Center at Intel.

“To a great degree... the speed with which solutions can be brought online is the result of Linux and open source in the data center,” said Sousou, who is also on the OpenStack Foundation board of directors. “The amount of collaboration around the future of the data center is very encouraging.”

In his keynote at LinuxCon and CloudOpen North America, “Linux in the New Connected World,” Sousou will share Intel's plans to address the explosion of connected devices, as well as the services and secured data that is in demand. He'll also discuss why open source is the best way for a powerful and diverse ecosystem to collaborate and innovate quickly.

Here, he discusses the data center transformation brought about by software-defined infrastructure and the Internet of Things, and the role of Linux in this change.

Register now for LinuxCon and CloudOpen North America, to be held Aug. 20-22, 2014, in Chicago.

Linux.com: What innovations are transforming the data center today?

Imad Sousou: The emergence of public, private, and hybrid clouds is one type of innovation we are seeing. Another is virtualization, where today compute, network, and storage can now all be virtualized on standard high-volume servers. We’ve also seen a vibrant open source ecosystem focused on the data center emerge to address the growing demand for data and services. Much of this is driven by software-defined infrastructure, or SDI, with more layers being done in software. This means you aren’t bound to a piece of fixed-function hardware and it has opened up the ability to self-administer cloud resources and specify how many virtual servers, what kind of networking, and how much storage you need. Today, developers and operational managers can get what used to take weeks or even months within the hour, which is transforming the way they work.

What role does Linux play in those changes?

Everything I talked about around innovations has an open source component and every time you use a device or connect to the Internet, you are using Linux-based open source code. With its rapid adoption in the data center, Linux and the open source culture around it has fueled innovation at every layer of the stack, from open computing to virtualization (and more recently, containerization) to orchestration. To a great degree, the promise of SDI and the speed with which solutions can be brought online is the result of Linux and open source in the data center. We are seeing new open source projects focused on the cloud and data center and the communities to support them everywhere. For example, projects like OpenStack have more than a dozen sub-projects or related projects with thousands of contributors. The amount of collaboration around the future of the data center is very encouraging.

How about the Internet of Things -- what role does that play?

The Internet of Things is leading to tremendous growth in connected devices—from smartphones and tablets to wearables, boxes with RFID tags, home solutions, digital signage, medical devices and automotive. That growth is not surprisingly leading to an even bigger explosion in data, creating greater demand for data centers and services. Consider that you need a server for every 400 smartphones, every 40 connected factory tools, and every 20 digital signs. With all the data those devices are generating, you need a way to make sense of the information. This is why the open source community’s ability to produce large step improvements in areas like big data processing speed and cloud efficiency is so important. There is also a need for new analytics and web services to process and then package the data in a useful way to consumers.

What is Intel doing now to participate in and lead this transformation?

In addition to hundreds of software developers contributing to dozens of open source projects focused on the data center, Intel is in a unique position to contribute at the board or silicon level to expose new platform features to benefit projects like OpenStack, KVM, Xen, and Hadoop. These features help enable further optimizations in places such as power, performance, policy management and security. Intel has taken an active role in shaping the future of OpenStack with a seat on the Foundation Board of Directors. We are also chairing an Enterprise Working Group chartered by the OpenStack Board of Directors to help focus the community on understanding the needs and requirements of the enterprise and how these apply to an OpenStack implementation.

As general manager of the Open Source Technology Center at Intel Corporation since its creation in 2003, Imad Sousou is responsible for Intel's efforts in open source software across a range of technologies and market segments, including enterprise Linux and related technologies, embedded market segments, and client Linux programs and related technologies. The center also focuses on operating system (OS) stacks, including the Tizen OS, Android on Intel architecture and the Chrome OS for Intel architecture; and on open source applications, user experience and Web and HTML5 technologies on top of client operating systems. Sousou joined Intel in 1994 as a senior software engineer. Before moving into his current role, he served as director of telecom software programs in the Intel Communications Group and as director of client software engineering in the Home Products Group. He began his career as a software engineer at Central Point Software working on system utilities for the Apple Mac OS. Sousou holds a bachelor's degree in computer science and mathematics from Portland State University. He is on the board of directors at the OpenStack Foundation.