I had an interesting discussion yesterday about cloud and platforms and what the market is seeing, and I started thinking back to the OpenStack movement and the whole idea about open source clouds. The question is is open source cloud something to consider when transitioning your business to a cloud or virtualized model?
Some quick history: back in about 2010 Rackspace and NASA started the OpenStack movement. This software is now being used by over 150 companies and more than 2000 developers. It also recently got some major press from the signing of HP and Dell to the project. While it’s still in somewhat of an infancy stage, there are some cloud providers, such as Piston Cloud who offer this open source model.
But we’re seeing open cloud projects come from all areas. Amazon Web Services recently started working with a company called Eucalyptus (an open source provider of private cloud systems) to make the integration between AWS and open-source private clouds easier.
So does it make sense to use open clouds? Well, the nice thing about this model is that the usual things that make IT projects a pain (Patentsand Licenses) is removed. You also have the flexibility of making the environment customized because there are no key vendors that you have to standardize on. You also have lots of APIs designed by the community to leverage, and lots of unique resources to pull from.
But on the flip side, open may not be necessarily better. There is some comfort to having standardization. Think IOS applications vs Android applications. There are benefits to both, Android doesn’t rely on their marketplace deciding which apps can be sold or not. But until Ice Cream Sandwich came out, getting a good working app that works on a tablet has been a bit of a pain. So the argument can go either way.
Personally, I would wait until we see more key players backing open source clouds. My fear is that if you decide to adopt this model, and the movement itself isn’t supported by too many larger players, you’ll be forced to go to a niche provider. That means you might not get some of the perks (including pricing) that a larger cloud provider could deliver. I could get into the security concerns of using open source vs standardized models, but that is another discussion altogether.