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Myth-busting the open source cloud

Thu 5 Nov 2015
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Ever since open source software took hold in the 1990s, there have been questions or concerns regarding its maturity level and whether some of these products are ready for use in business environments.

The nature of open source as a software development model is such that anyone is free to make ongoing improvements in product design. The source code is available to the general public for use or modification from the original design. Open source is primarily based on a decentralised model of software development rather than one typically used to make commercial offerings.

Some IT and business leaders are still not completely comfortable with the idea of using open source products. And when it comes to the cloud, these concerns seem pointed toward the overall maturity level of open source.

However, the Linux Foundation, a non-profit that fosters the growth of Linux, is working to dispel this myth and demonstrate that open source cloud is ready for the enterprise. 

For example, in its January 2015 report, Guide to the Open Cloud: Open Cloud Projects Profiled, the group provides insights on open source cloud maturity levels.

The organisation’s second report on open cloud includes evaluations of a number of projects and technology categories that have gained traction — such as Cloud Foundry, OpenStack, KVM, Docker, Xen Project, Swift, Eucalyptus and Open Daylight, among others.

These movements already have gained widespread support. For example, OpenStack has dozens of corporate sponsors or supporting organisations, and is gaining enterprise-level adoption.

According to a survey of 1068 technical professionals by cloud portfolio management provider RightScale, 48% of organisations are running apps in an OpenStack-based private cloud, experimenting with OpenStack private cloud or planning to use it at some point.

With open source cloud endeavours, it’s not so much a question of maturity as it is figuring out which offering is the best fit for your organisation.

As Amanda McPherson, chief marketing officer at the Linux Foundation, points out, “Open source and collaboration are clearly advancing the cloud faster than ever before. Just consider the many OpenStack distributions and ecosystem emerging around Linux containers that didn’t even exist a year ago. Yet, as the open source cloud evolves so quickly, it can sometimes be difficult for enterprises to identify the technologies that best fit their needs.”

The Linux Foundation report states that in 2013, many cloud projects were still working out their core enterprise features and building in functionality, and companies were still very much in the early stages of planning and testing their public, private or hybrid clouds. 

“Now, not only have cloud projects consistently — and sometimes dramatically — grown their user and developer communities, lines of code and commits over the past year, their software is increasingly enterprise-ready,” the report says. “And enterprise use, in turn, has advanced beyond testing to deployment at the orchestration layer and on up the stack.”

This advancing maturity of the software, combined with increasing enterprise cloud adoption, has created a growing interest in and demand for open source solutions from cloud service providers and companies alike.

Just as organisations must be open-minded about whether a private, public or hybrid cloud (or a mix of models) is best for them, so too must they be ready to recognise that open source cloud is ready for prime-time.

By Aman Neil Dokania, vice president and general manager, Asia Pacific and Japan, Hewlett Packard Enterprise

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