Recently the debate between opensource clouds like OpenStack and traditional clouds like Amazon or VMware has been heating up. Mostly due to more organizations starting to dip their toes into the cloud pool, but also as a response to the perceived flexibility that the opensource model is said to provide. But is open source a viable option for organizations, or does it make sense to go with an established cloud platform?
Opensource clouds like OpenStack are a great option for developers who want to be able to draw from a wide development community. Since there is no official fixed framework, there is lots of flexibility in developing custom applications to run in the environment, and all code is available without hefty licensing fees. The drawback, like any opensource platform, is that because it can be used on any hardware, you run a higher risk of incompatible code if the platform is not supported. Additionally, since code is developed by different sources, it might need to go through extra testing before official deployment in your environment as there may not be a formal support organization to rely on. That being said, OpenStack does have a wealth of great vendors backing it, so there is a bright future for it. But like with any new solutions, it might take some time to get the kinks out.
On the other hand, if you decide to go with a tried and true platform such as AWS, VMware or Azure, you generally know what you are getting into. These platforms have lots of funding and testing behind them, and a diverse customer pool that provides them with a great source of feedback to ensure the platform operates as it should. Additionally, because these projects are funded by large vendors, there is a formal support organization to help troubleshoot any issues within the environment. The downside is that cloud providers are usually tied to one main platform, so you need to decide which platform to use and look at the market to ensure that you can later on move your infrastructure without the fear of vendor lock-in. The other major drawback is licensing costs, which will hopefully come down as economies of scale kick in.
At the end of the day, OpenStack is a great alternative for organizations who want more flexibility in a platform. Just keep in mind that as you move into a new platform, your security controls must be supported to ensure the integrity of your environment.