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Programming Cloud Open Source

Walmart Open Sources Its Cloud Platform To Take On Amazon (walmartlabs.com) 83

Mickeycaskill writes: Walmart is effectively open sourcing its OneOps cloud platform, with the source code set to be uploaded to GitHub at the end of 2015. By making the cloud platform open source, Walmart is taking the fight to Amazon Web Services by giving developers a chance to avoid vendor lock-in. Walmart argues that OneOps has four main advantages: cloud portability, continuous lifecycle management, faster innovation, and great abstraction of cloud environments. The company says that the move should increase competition between cloud service vendors. "We're enabling any organization to achieve the same cloud portability and developer benefits that Walmart has enjoyed,"said Jeremy King, CTO of Walmart Global eCommerce and head of WalmartLabs.
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Walmart Open Sources Its Cloud Platform To Take On Amazon

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  • by turkeydance ( 1266624 ) on Thursday October 15, 2015 @07:01PM (#50740147)
    lower prices.
  • WalMart and Amazon are fucking retail stores, not tech companies.
    I'm not trusting them or their "clouds" with my data.

    • That point holds true for Wal-Mart, but since Amazon has always been 100% Internet based (and especially after they started making Kindles) they do count as a tech company. Not saying you should trust their cloud, though.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by NotInHere ( 3654617 )

      Amazon is a tech company, Walmart isn't. I guess somewhere at Walmart HQ there has been a conversation like that:

      A) Damn! Our sales are dropping! Which company has taken our customers?
      B) I've heard of Amazon to be successful. Its an internet retail store.
      A) Can we buy some "Internet" for us too?
      B) Internet isn't bought, its a network for communication.
      A) Either way, can we roll it out?
      B) We could, but Amazon has a major head start and has much more experience in that field
      B) Also, they largely benefit from

      • by amiga3D ( 567632 ) on Thursday October 15, 2015 @07:21PM (#50740257)

        Walmart has enough money they can just do it like Microsoft does. Keep throwing money at it. Piles of cash have always made up for innovation and experience.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Of course you just didn't see their earnings report and negative outlook.

        • I suspect the piles of cash thing isn't really what's going on. Walmart has a huge revenue stream, but they're not known for pissing away cash. This probably has more to do with helping other companies "liberate" themselves from lock in from a single cloud provider (cough...AWS...cough) without having to pony up for something like cloud foundry. Looking forward to seeing the code.

          • by haruchai ( 17472 )

            "Looking forward to seeing the code" - I remember when a lot of people said that about SAPdb, now called MaxDB.
            And then they did.......some of them got their brains fried and have never recovered.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I wonder if their IT staff get locked into [bloomberg.com] the datacenters at night.

          • by lucm ( 889690 ) on Friday October 16, 2015 @12:48AM (#50741485)

            Walmart is the biggest employer of H1B visa workers year after year.

            Foreign workers are not locked in a store, but they are locked in terrible work conditions, low-end housing and basically economic slavery. Meanwhile Walmart is getting in the cloud business to allegedly help customers avoid vendor "lock-in". The audacity of those people.

      • by perpenso ( 1613749 ) on Friday October 16, 2015 @12:13AM (#50741389)
        Walmart computerized their inventory, supply chain, ordering and payments back in the 1970s. This includes automation, inventory at a store gets to a certain level and a shipment order is automatically generated to resupply from a distribution center. Distribution center gets to a certain level and excess is transferred from other distribution centers or a digital purchase order gets sent to the product's manufacturer.

        Cash registers were networked to the minicomputer in the store, reporting all transactions. Stores were networked to HQ via satellite and reported sales every 15 minutes. HQ did massive data mining at national, regional, state and local levels. Optimizing store inventory for local tastes. Again, 1970s.

        Their data mining was such that recognized patterns were added to the automated supply chain management. For example when hurricanes are forecast pop tart sales spike in florida and the gulf. Their software monitors weather reports and when hurricanes are forecast they automatically ship pop tarts from midwest distribution centers to florida and the gulf.

        Amazon followed where Walmart pioneered. Don't be so sure Walmart can not pose a serious threat with respect to logistics and supply chain management.
    • It's ok, don't both reading the article or even the summary. Just have a schizophrenic interpret the summary for you and then post your comment.
    • wal mart has been doing tech before there was an amazon. just not consumer side tech. they pioneered RFID back in the 90's
      • When I worked at Sam's I noticed that a lot of the applications we used were made in-house. I'm surprised they actually released something so publicly.
      • Walmart went digital in the 1970s. Cash registers on a LAN to the mini in the back. The mini on a WAN to HQ. HQ getting complete register transaction histories from all stores every 15 min. Massive data mining to optimize store inventories for local preferences. Automated store ordering of products from a distribution center (DC), automated DC ordering of products from manufacturers (or transfer from another DC with excess inventory). Walmart pioneered this stuff. Its part of how they crushed the competitio
    • by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Thursday October 15, 2015 @08:13PM (#50740511) Homepage Journal

      Dude, go back to the cows.

      Walmart is first and foremost a tech company . Their computerized logistics chain is the essential technology that enables them to be a multinational behemoth rather than a typical regional discount store chain. This has been true for decades.

      • THIS!! a thousand times. People have no clue how tightly controlled their logistics chain is and believe it or not they have some very high tech built in-house to get that beast to be as efficient as it is.
        • by tibit ( 1762298 )

          OK, so they are super-efficient, so they should be able to pay their workers a living wage, right? Right? They can shove their efficiency in the Waltons' butts, as far as I care. It's an enterprise set up for the benefit of the sociopathic owners. It's a public company in name only.

          • by andydread ( 758754 ) on Friday October 16, 2015 @10:00AM (#50743695)
            No! Their workers can go get a fucking education and get a job that pays them a living wage just like I did. When i first came to this country I worked 3 jobs (BK in the afternoons at 3.65/hr, back when minimum wage was 3.25/hr, McD's opening in the morning at 4.25/hr, and washing cars on the weekend) and put myself through school at night while working those 3 jobs because I made the determination at that time that I wasn't going to come all the way to America to be making anywhere near minimum wage when i'm 40
            • by Khyber ( 864651 )

              "No! Their workers can go get a fucking education and get a job that pays them a living wage just like I did."

              Yep, you tell that to the friends I have whom have Masters degrees in hard sciences yet can't get any fucking work at all EXCEPT at fast food places.

            • by tibit ( 1762298 )

              All of them? Get off your high chair.

      • Exactly. Just because their stores are dingy and full of ugly people the hipsters assume they can't possibly be technically sophisticated behind the scenes.

      • by jdavidb ( 449077 )
        And yet when I go to pickup something at site to store, their software still sucks, noone can use it, it lists everything we've ever ordered instead of just what is there to be picked up, and noone can find our order.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Fail.

      Walmart is a tech company that happens to sell (a lot of) stuff. Walmart Information Systems Division is 3000+ people, including some highly trained developers, network and systems engineers, and information security specialists.

      It is one of the best tech firms I have worked for in my 35yr tech career. Don't believe me? Spend a week in Bentonville, AR (and another week in San Bruno, CA) and talk to some tech folks.

    • by Trailer Trash ( 60756 ) on Thursday October 15, 2015 @08:39PM (#50740655) Homepage

      Walmart is doing something like $300,000,000,000 per year in sales now, yet I can buy something at a Walmart store, immediately go to a different store for a return and when they scan my receipt the order comes up immediately. All the while about $9500/second in transactions is being dumped into their database.

      Yes, they are a technology company.

      Amazon isn't as big but they're still doing amazing stuff, also a technology company.

    • by perpenso ( 1613749 ) on Thursday October 15, 2015 @11:59PM (#50741347)

      WalMart and Amazon are fucking retail stores, not tech companies. I'm not trusting them or their "clouds" with my data.

      Actually Walmart is a tech company, a pioneer in the field. Technical innovation had much to do with their success. They went digital in the 1970s, automated inventory tracking, electronic purchase orders and payments, data mining on sales, etc. All cash registers were reporting sales to a minicomputer in the back, every fifteen minutes the minicomputer sent the data to headquarters. Headquarters had near real time visibility on product sales and could view this data at various levels from national to regional to state to city to individual stores.

      This incredible near real time data is how they got huge multinational corporations to agree to buy into the Walmart digital supply chain, they offered them access to this near real time data for their corporation's products.

      They did extensive data mining. Using the behaviors observed to balance inventory between regional distribution centers. Again, automated. Hurricane forecasted for Florida and/or the Gulf. Shipping orders are automatically generated moving pop tarts from mid west distribution centers to Florida and Gulf distribution centers. Their data mining noticed a spike in pop tart sales, among other things, when hurricanes are forecast.

      • exactly as this thread shows, though, they have a perception problem. They may have arrived at having a cloud offering in the same was as Microsoft (ie. buy it in), but unlike Microsoft, to paraphrase a common expression, you can get fired for buying Wallmart.

        That said, if Wallmart could offer Amazon's list of services at the sort of lower price most people perceive Wallmart as offering, then it could get some traction (at least from the smaller companies).

    • Walmart isn't selling cloud services, it's making the code it uses to run its own internal cloud as open source. It's a three way win for Walmart:
      1. Good publicity (we all hate Walmart).
      2. They can use community contributions to their code to make their own internal cloud better.
      3. Some other Amazon Web Services customers might use Walmart's code to run their own internal cloud instead of using AWS. That might hurt Amazon profits - in a small way, of course - without costing Walmart anything.

      Fur
    • WalMart and Amazon are fucking retail stores, not tech companies. I'm not trusting them or their "clouds" with my data.

      I am the security sup. for Amazon in Brazil. Actually Amazon has a much broader operation than it appears to the outside eyes. Amazon has a huge tech infra structure and an amazing security system for all information kept in its hd and ssds. I think Wall Mart will have to develop light years to reach the standards applied in the AWS. Experience counts a lot.

  • ..To make sure this wasn't an April Fools' Joke!
  • by fluffernutter ( 1411889 ) on Thursday October 15, 2015 @07:43PM (#50740349)
    Forgive me for being ignorant, but if I download this 'Cloud platform', precisely what can I do with it?
    • by synaptic ( 4599 )

      Well first, build a datacenter...

    • by synaptic ( 4599 )

      Seriously though, it appears to be an abstraction layer on top of the various public cloud APIs. So you could conceivably define an instance in OneOps and deploy that in Azure, Google Cloud, AWS, Helion, etc depending on your needs. I'm not sure how practical that will be in the real world though.

      • An instance of what?
        • In cloud lingo, an "instance" means a "virtual private server", a VM running on someone else's computer.

          • Oh so it's just for shuffling VMs around.
            • "Oh so it's just for shuffling VMs around."

              You haven't been in the need of shuffling VMs around lately or you wouldn't be using "just" to qualify the effort.

              • WeI support around 500 VMs but they're all hosted in our own datacenters so we're just using VMWare vMotion and stuff, nothing complicated. I'm kind of surprised the cloud is more complicated then that, I thought it was supposed to make things easier.
                • "WeI support around 500 VMs but they're all hosted in our own datacenters so we're just using VMWare vMotion and stuff"

                  So you are locked to one provider (your own infrastucture). Now, if the need arise, try to move your 500 VMs (a candy, I dealt with x10 that number) to another provider. Then you'll understand what we are talking here.

      • Yeah, that's right. If you use this, then you won't be locked in to a single cloud vendor.
        Instead you'll be locked into Walmart's cloud platform. J/K it's open source, so devOps can keep you up; since devOps can do anything.

        It fascinates me that Walmart has such a serious software team, though.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          They're famously too cheap to pay for individual hotel rooms for their managers. Did you think they were going to fork out whatever it is that Oracle or VMware charges?

    • Read the source code. That's the benefit. Read it, understand it, reuse it, fork it...

      I'm not sure you understand the value of source code. Just having it is potentially valuable, even if all you do is provide it to someone who wants or needs it.

  • Ala Netflix, Twitter, etc.. But it probably won't be popular. So in general it's good but in particular more of a meh.
  • Walmart and Walmart.com are probably starting to have problems making a decent profit margin on some products because Amazon.com is undercutting them on price. Amazon can do this because they don't have a giant store network with hundreds of thousands of employees to support, and they have a separate giant cloud hosting business to draw revenue from. They are also working on crazy new instant shipping options like bike and drone delivery that threaten Walmart's Brick and Mortar operations.

    Walmart's solution

    • yes, though initially it sounds counter intuitive; walmart knows how to keep the labor costs the bare minimum; it's in their DNA. When most of the tech part [say in a specific cloud solution] is commoditized, the major operating-expense is going to be labor. Walmart can drive this low as they are experts on how to do this. The competition may not have the time to react to this assault. Again the same force which drives the middle-class to vanish will work on the higher and higher white collar tech jobs.
  • I used to deal with Wallmart as a supplier.. Their order management system and accounts is very inefficient. My deliveries routinely get lost in their system and my payments are missed with no proper way to track them.. I have stopped doing business with them as they refuse to acknowledge that I have made certain deliveries for which I have not received payment. Their stores are sometime unable to generate GRN due to system inefficiencies.. I don't trust their IT systems at all..
  • I personally believe this is a good thing. Walmart is #1 on the Fortune 500 list [fortune.com] so they must be doing something right. Amazon.com is #29 on the same list BTW.

    Having worked in the ERP/Logistics space myself, you don't get to be as big as Walmart without some serious tech in place and working.

    If anything, maybe having more players in this space is good just for the competitive aspect; it will force others to lower their prices to lure customers!

  • I'm expecting a few cans of baked beans or sweet corn, if I spend a certain amount on storage and VMs each month.
  • by gurubert ( 39045 ) on Friday October 16, 2015 @04:11AM (#50742005) Homepage
    Walmart runs OpenStack (as can be seen here: https://www.openstack.org/summ... [openstack.org] ). It will be interesting what they want to open source, maybe they have built a management layer on top of OpenStack or even their own "distribution".
  • TFS is written like this is the first open source attack on AWS. Can someone explain why this is any different from OpenStack from Rackspace?

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