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Open-source software has facilitated the development of cloud computing by providing developers and IT managers with an alternative to proprietary software, said Paul Cormier, executive vice president and president of products and technologies at Linux vendor Red Hat.
Cormier's comments on the parallels between cloud computing and open-source software came in a keynote speech this week at the company's annual Red Hat Summit conference in Boston.
"Cloud computing might not have been possible without open-source software," Cormier said, arguing that proprietary software locks customers into single-vendor software "stacks" that lack the flexibility cloud computing requires. "Cloud computing is built on open-source software."
An open-source approach to the cloud creates a host of benefits, Eucalyptus' Mickos said. Because it is a community environment, the code is examined by a group, making it easier to find bugs. Open source also has a swift development cycle and can get into users' hands more quickly.
There are some drawbacks, however. For instance, for open-source clouds to be successful, the project requires a specific governance model, Mickos said.
"At the end of the day, somebody's still calling the shots of which features should be developed," he said. A governance model is necessary, and finding the right governance model is key. If the model is too loose or too strict, it could hinder progress.
Monetizing an open-source project is also tricky. Many never have a business opportunity. But the cloud computing model is changing that, Mickos said.
According to Mickos, open-source cloud computing gives solution providers and partners the ability to add value with support and services.
"Open source has been a difficult thing for the channel," he said. "But the demand for the channel is higher for cloud. Customers now are saying 'We'd like cloud. We'd like it to be open source. And we would like help building and deploying it.'"
The channel's main role in open-source cloud computing, Mickos said, will be adding management and other mechanisms on top of the cloud. Through its partnership with MomentumSI, an Austin, Texas-based systems integrator, Eucalyptus is in the channel. MomentumSI builds open-source Eucalyptus clouds for customers with value added additions.
Jeff Schneider, CEO of MomentumSI said cloud computing was a strong fit for open source.
"We're entering into a new paradigm where you're allowed to break the rules," he said, adding that open source is about trying new things, innovating and experimenting to see what works. And from an integrator perspective, a lot of the work with open-source cloud computing is helping people understand what they want to do in the cloud, rolling out that strategy, integrating the components and guiding the cultural shift required to adapt.