Open Innovation Stories: Priya Nagpurkar’s quest to make cloud computing seamless
Open source OpenWhisk, Composer, SolSA enhance open hybrid cloud
Priya Nagpurkar’s interest in problem solving and programming goes back to her childhood in Pune, India. Once, when she was playing games on the family’s PC, her father asked, “Why don’t you try building your own games?”
“That’s what unlocked the idea that this machine was not a black box,” Priya recalled. “I can actually make it do things that I want.”
Now, as more organizations move to hybrid, multicloud architectures, Priya, IBM’s Director of Hybrid Cloud Platform Research, aims to help them do it in a way that is cohesive, efficient and scalable with open source.
“We can’t have people making individual pieces and no systematic way for them to be stitched together,” says Priya, who is looking to bridge the gaps in cloud computing.
“We made early bets that open technology like Kubernetes and serverless would be the glue for hybrid cloud.”
Open source OpenWhisk, Composer, and SolSA speed innovation
In 2014, Priya became part of the cloud research team working on cutting edge cloud technologies including OpenWhisk, an open source, serverless cloud platform that lets users run code for applications remotely without the need for their own hardware. In addition to its flexibility — it supports a wide range of programming languages and containerized deployment options, including Kubernetes, OpenShift, and Mesos — OpenWhisk scales up as needed.
“My role was to envision how the cloud and cloud applications would evolve and push the concept of serverless programming to the next level,” she said. OpenWhisk is now part of the Apache Foundation, whose mission is to produce software for the public good, and you can get participate in the project on GitHub.
Next, the team began work on Composer, software that connects sequences of code into larger applications. “Composer was our first foray into combining cloud resources into bigger solutions,” she said.
Priya’s latest endeavor is SolSA (Solution Service Architecture), a programming model for hybrid clouds. The software lets organizations take advantage of different kinds of cloud resources, like container-based microservices, long-running batch jobs, and managed data services.
Priya said SolSA has a variety of uses across industries, from banking to telecommunications to retail.
“Even fast food chains are trying to connect the equipment they use in their kitchens to the cloud,” she said. “They want to combine as much data as possible — weather, lunch breaks of nearby businesses, events planned in the neighborhood. They want to use all this information to proactively prepare for the food they expect to sell, and they’re using cloud technologies to make it possible.”
With the Red Hat OpenShift Kubernetes platform and Red Hat Enterprise Linux providing a common operating environment that runs across all clouds, Priya and her team are able to focus on projects like SolSA and Kui to help solve problems moving up the stack and to make the developer experience as seamless as possible.
Looking towards the future
Priya has teamed with researchers from companies like Google, Lyft, and Red Ha t in community calls to advance open source projects. “The good thing about open source is you leverage the programmer community and innovate faster,” she notes. “You are able to benefit from the talent of a much broader community than just one company.”
Priya’s work is driven by a look ahead to what’s next. “What are the workloads of the future? What are people trying to do on computers?” she said. “When we build something that others get excited about and see as useful to solving an important problem — those are the most rewarding moments in this work.”