The open cloud concept has been floating around many businesses and IT departments. It floats beyond business environments; if you have a friend or family member that’s a “computer person” (a term that is loosely used to describe anyone that does “computery” things most people don’t understand), you’ve probably heard them use the term. Bosses say things like: “We’ve got to take a serious look at the open cloud this quarter.” And non-IT employees nod, furrow their brow to show deep understanding, and agree.

I’m not 100 percent confident in my understanding of what cloud computing is … let alone an “open” cloud. Videos like this, from Rackspace, are bridging the gap for lay persons:

YouTube video

Q&A with creative producer Angela Bartels:

Rivard Report: What capacity was your team involved with the video?

Angela Bartels: My team does content marketing for the online marketing team at Rackspace. Our job is to develop content that specifically speaks to the variety of personas Rackspace markets to. When I saw the “Back to the Start” commercial that aired during the Grammy’s, I was inspired. They (Chiptole) told a story beyond what they served in restaurants, it was about what they believed in and they were challenging the industry to take part. Rackspace is leading a shift in technology, we are opening the cloud. We needed to tell our story to the world and it wasn’t going to be about our speeds and feeds, it was about something bigger than that.  I pitched the idea to my colleagues last February after seeing that video. I reached out to an agency out of Austin, Texas (Impossible Engine) that we had worked with on smaller projects to see if they would be interested in working on a video that told our story. We invited them to the Rackspace headquarters where we kicked off an all day brainstorming session. From there, our team (Angela Bartels, Garrett Heath, Shanon Montelongo) led the vision throughout the creative process.

RR: What do you think confuses the lay person the most about the concept of the Open Cloud? Why make this animation?

AB: I don’t think there is necessarily confusion, I just think that because we are a B2B tech company, we haven’t connected with the masses in this way. What people may not realize is that we power all the apps that the everyday person uses to manage their life. When you’re able to send an email or write on your blog, you are using apps that are powered by the cloud.  The people that created these apps (app developers) can choose where to deploy their apps and our message is that the open cloud is a place where they can come to collaborate with other developers and build things that are better than what they are today.  We wanted to take a very complex story and 1) simplify it, 2) create emotion and 3) get people inclined to share the story. Technology can be rough around the edges and we want to soften that message. We did animation because we wanted to do something different than what we had ever done before. We’ve created hundreds of videos but nothing like this. It was definitely a test and we think it was worth the investment.

RR: How long did the video take to produce?

AB: We had a our kick off brainstorming session with our agency (Impossible Engine) April 19th. We received the final version October 9th.

RR: How do you think it has it been received by the audience?

AB: Very well! We’ve received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback. Check out this one comment from a Yahoo! Engineer (click here). We’ve also had 118 YouTube likes.

RR: I see that Rackspace supports the Open Cloud Manifesto online. Are the challenges to the Open Cloud listed (security, data and application interoperability, portability, etc.) being actively examined at Rackspace?  Has progress been made?

AB: We don’t just support the Open Cloud, it’s actually our birth rite. The products that Rackspace has launched on OpenStack over the last two years makes the content in that manifesto pretty obsolete.
Rackspace is the second largest contributor to OpenStack, our following products are on OpenStack: cloud servers, cloud files, cloud databases, private cloud;  and we address concerns (like those mentioned in that manifesto) through our Fanatical Support approach.

We are providing “choice,” by having no vendor lock-in. So for example, if you come to Rackspace to deploy your web platform, you do not have to customize your code to fit our code and you can also pick up and leave whenever you want because you’re not tied to, or locked into, our software.

You might want to check out Senior Director of Engineering for Cloud Compute Troy Toman’s keynote here:

I would also check out Rackspace President Lew Moorman’s speech at Gigaom’s Structure 2012, The Open Cloud

For more information about the open cloud:

Rackspace’s OpenStack:



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Iris Dimmick

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and workforce development. Contact her at