The cloud computing landscape continues to grow with every passing year. 2014 is quickly coming to a close, and more businesses are using the cloud than ever before. What was once looked at as a fascinating new technology for the future has now become a practical, established strategy for companies today. The cloud is here and it’s impressive growth is only just getting started. A report from Forrester even predicts that cloud computing providers and the cloud market will grow to as much as $240 billion by the year 2020. So the cloud is not only the present but the future for businesses, but what exactly does that future hold for cloud computing itself? It’s a question industry analysts have examined, with many pointing to open source software as the answer. When looking at the benefits and advantages, it’s clear that using open source will play an integral part in what happens with cloud computing in the years to come.
There are many reasons for companies to use open source solutions involving the cloud. One of the obvious ones that is a clear motivating factor is the cost, or lack thereof. Open source by its very nature is more free-flowing and open to others, making it that much more affordable, especially when it’s free. Since open source software usually isn’t a product made by a large corporation or eager upstart, the cost to use it is usually quite low. That means a low barrier of entry for businesses to adopt it for their operations. The low monetary barrier makes it so small businesses with limited budgets that might have shied away from more expensive cloud solutions before can actually use the technology and embrace the benefits that come with it.
The low cost of using open source cloud software also avoids one of the more potentially unpleasant aspects of working with a cloud vendor. Most cloud providers earn money by placing companies under contract. One of the overriding fears of working with a cloud provider is that of vendor lock-in. This happens when businesses sign a contract with a vendor and are obligated to remain with that provider even if the service and other offerings turn out less than stellar. Being beholden to a cloud vendor by contractual obligation scared many companies away, but with open source the possibility of vendor lock-in is taken away and businesses can use the software in the way they choose or stop whenever they want.
Indeed, it is this increased flexibility and versatility that has made open source such an attractive option with cloud computing. Every business has different needs and functions, and finding the right cloud service that meets are their needs and demands can be a time-consuming process. Even when a provider is found, it might not have all the requirements a business is looking for. Open source can solve this problem because of its widely active community that’s constantly working to update and improve the software. A large community can provide support and expertise while crafting innovative solutions that are designed to address the needs businesses have. As demands evolve in a rapidly changing business world, the software can change as well. That also means that these changes are made at a more rapid pace than in cases where the product is from a larger company. All of these different features contribute to software that’s highly customizable. No longer are companies placed in a box and forced to adapt to the cloud service they’ve chosen. Instead, they can use open source to adapt the software to what they want. It’s a tremendously valuable attribute and one reason for open source’s considerable popularity.
With greater flexibility and versatility, cheaper solutions, and a product that doesn’t require a contract, it’s clear open source has a vital role to play as cloud computing continues to grow and evolve. More companies are seeing the clear benefits that come from adopting open source cloud solutions and are taking advantage of the technology. While more work still has to be done improving security and establishing higher standards, the open source community is well on its way to providing these crucial elements. It’s very likely that open source will be an inseparable component of the cloud in the future.
By Rick Delgado