Open Source Cloud Computing?
The dominant growth of open source in infrastructure software design and the vast adoption of cloud computing have resulted in a powerful synergy whose impacts and benefits are far-reaching. This synergy was born out of the need for flexibility, savings by free or low cost software licensing fees, and vendor lock-in (that deters vendors who seek to control the system framework), among other benefits.
The question is how will open source cloud computing survive in a market environment where services and infrastructure platforms are continually being commoditized?
Apart from the earlier stated benefits, open source cloud computing ensures that the end users access free source codes that they can freely share. Since this software will be open to change and improvement to fit varying needs, its popularity is guaranteed.
The future prospects will converge around the ‘need-use-gratification’ system. Chances are that a cooperative cloud model of computing will emerge, inspired by the open business model. To get the idea, imagine a vast barter market where people develop and exchange services and ideas, improving them in the process and, thus, adding value to the barter services. This would also mean that efforts may be consolidated and infrastructures shared in order to attain better scales. This prospect is emerging in what can be referred to as ‘cloud federation’, a growing endeavor in the world of open source cloud computing.
Big steps have already been made towards this endeavor by some companies embarking on open source cloud projects. Number one ought to be Amazons’ Eucalyptus project that utilizes Amazon Web Service API which allows cloud service functions. They also support services from open source distributors such as Linux. Another notable example is OpenStack, which is a new but formidable player into open source cloud computing service provision. Their services constitute managing computing and storage through two projects, namely OpenStack Compute and OpenStack Object Storage. Others include the famous OpenNebula, Sheepdog, and Ganeti (all utilize open source tools, Kernel-based Virtual Machine-KVM and Xen).
So why is the cloud computing trend likely to move towards open source? According to Pete Chadwick, Sr. Cloud Solutions Manager at SUSE of Attachemate Group, cloud computing needs and will go this way because of the following reasons. First, open cloud environment supports more flexibility (a key principle in cloud computing) by presenting the end user with more options rather than being stuck to a single choice. Secondly, the security concerns of cloud computing will be better addressed in an open environment where these are more open to scrutiny by various specialists and developers. In such a setting, someone will always have your back covered.
According to another industry authority, Dion Hinchcliffe, an information technology and business strategy expert, better prospects in open source cloud computing are unavoidable as this will be the key means of leveraging patented services for better market situations.
By John Omwamba
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