A blog for the enterprise open source community
Who will build the open source cloud?Matthew Aslett, July 30, 2008 @ 6:47 am ET
I wrote recently about the potential of open source software as a platform for cloud computing. Since then I’ve been involved in a couple of conversations with prospective cloud users that have further highlighted the opportunity for an open source cloud.
The conversations involved big companies with substantial budgets/IT costs, truly mission-critical applications and a tendency towards being early adopters. Suffice to say they are interested in cloud computing as an opportunity to lower costs and improve the efficiency of their IT systems.
However, they also want to prove the model and technologies internally before they are prepared to migrate significant workloads to the cloud (this might sound counter-intuitive to some but we’re not talking about one-off skunkworks projects here).
Two of a number of reasons holding them back from more rapid adoption of cloud computing are the ability to migrate workloads to cloud environments and the fear of getting locked in to a particular cloud.
This is where the open source opportunity arises. With the likes of Microsoft and Google offering a walled garden approach, developers are able to write/port applications to those clouds, but only if they buy into a particular stack.
The ecosystem of vendors that have sprung up around AWS makes it easier to migrate existing workloads to Amazon’s cloud but there is still a requirement to buy in to Amazon’s stack. What are the implications for portability?
As Todd Hoff recently wrote: “Portability is a key capability for cloud customers as the only real power customers have is in where they take their business and the only way you can change suppliers is if there’s a ready market of fungible services. And the only way their can be a market is if there’s a high degree of standardization.”
James Urquhart explained the opportunity as follows:
“This is big stuff, despite the skepticism of some cloud fanatics who can’t grep why “private clouds” (I am beginning to like that term) are legitimate. I most certainly don’t fall into that particular camp, having real experience working with customers who realize that they have to start with an in-house cloud to satisfy corporate and legal mandates. Ideally, though, this infrastructure would allow them to migrate all or portions of their applications out of house when the time and technology are right. If Eucalyptus can pull this off and really provide a killer Amazon clone for private deployments, they may become the core technology for an awful lot of enterprise SLAuto platforms in years to come.”
Of course it doesn’t have to be open source, but the fact that it is levels the playing field and provides and opportunity for multiple cloud providers to focus on differentiate themselves on service levels rather than lock-in. As Simon Wardley recently noted, “All we need now are multiple providers, some trademarks and a compliance authority.” Who’s first?
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