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OCS 2020 Keynote: Zachary Smith

Zachary Smith started his first business at the age of 10 mowing lawns with his brother. For the past 20 years, he has been focused on using software to build automated infrastructure platforms, helping to grow Voxel, a Linux-based hosting platform sold to Internap in 2011, into one of the early leading cloud hosting companies. In 2014, Zac co-founded Packet to empower technology-enabled Enterprises with automated bare metal infrastructure no matter where it was, what it was or who owned it. The company was acquired by Equinix, the world's largest provider of datacenters, in early 2020.

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Zac Smith, a 20 year veteran of cloud computing and internet infrastructure. In this candid keynote, he makes the case for an open internet

I want to tell you a bit about my search for purpose as an entrepreneur.” — 00:10

Zachary describes background in the cloud industry, for over 20 years, including getting started with Linux and first renting from Voxel, before starting a partnership with Raj.

“If there was one thing that was attractive about Linux in the early 2000s, it was the word ‘free.’” Zachary details adventures building on Linux, and ultimately selling to a public company in 2010. — 2:33

Zachary details reconnecting with Alex Polvi, learning about Alex’s work on CoreOS, Google’s upcoming activity in the open source space, and realization that open source would go all the way down the stack. — 5:00

“We needed to meet the world of software with a new open model for automated infrastructure.” — 6:25

“As Alan Kay famously said, ‘people who are really serious about software should make their own hardware.’ But what if all those people were subscale? What if an entire wave of software developers and open-source companies had no background, interest, or time to do what we did at Voxel? What if they wanted to have it operated for them anywhere? What if hardware could move at software speed? That’s why we started Packet.” — 8:10

Zachary elaborates on the opportunities in the infrastructure space.

“We built a company around one simple thing — automating physical infrastructure for developers. Our passion has been to solve the really boring parts, where physical and digital meet. The plumbing, so to speak, of our modern world.” — 9:45

Zachary details joining Equinix and open sourcing Tinkerbell, which is now a sandbox project at the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, as well as joining the board of Open19, in addition to rolling out Equinix Metal, and Equinix’s contributions to the open-source community. — 10:10

“I think a future that is open and more diverse will be more innovative, and we have some pretty big challenges to solve. From the sustainability of our planet, to the role of technology in our social and political lives. I believe technology and the Internet are going to be defining aspects of our future. It’s our job to make that impact as a positive one, and to leave this world better than we found it. With a model that invites collaboration and stimulates competition, a better Internet is possible. Let’s make it happen.” — 12:43


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