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But there is some caution and questioning necessary before taking the open-source cloud plunge, Schneider said.
"Any time you're dealing with open source, you have to determine whether it's a winner or a loser," Schneider said, noting that examining the project's momentum and story are critical. Equally critical is determining whether there are enough features and advantages to outweigh incumbent solutions.
Oftentimes, open-source projects can quickly churn out new services and offerings, making it a solid choice. And while open source isn't a hard sell, Schneider said most customers aren’t specifically concerned that their environments are built on open source technologies, but that they work and that their needs are met from a feature and function perspective.
"I don't think my customers care if it's open source," he said, but later added, "If they're not latching on to some of the open source solutions, they feel they're going to miss something."
Open source is also infiltrating how developers build and write cloud computing applications. According to Jerry Chen, VMware senior director of cloud applications and services, VMware's open source Cloud Foundry platform-as-a-service play goes was built on the premise that development and open source go hand-in-hand.
"In our view, developer tools and developer frameworks and open source are a really nice fit," he said. An open-source platform like Cloud Foundry makes it easier to write apps and Chen said that data shows developer-facing areas have the most adoption when they're open source.
Cloud Foundry specifically, he said, supports multiple languages, multiple services and multiple clouds.
Another feather in the cap of open source in the cloud is the lack of vendor lock-in. Cloud Foundry enables portable applications that aren't restricted to certain cloud providers.
Chen said partnerships with ISVs and SaaS vendors and with hosting providers are just two areas where the channel can play a role in Cloud Foundry, which is in beta for 2011 and will see a commercial release in 2012.
Rackspace's Moorman said that OpenStack and other open source cloud projects, like Cloud Foundry, are creating new and innovative ways to put applications into the cloud, with an agility that proprietary offerings can't compare to. In Amazon's case, "in order to really use that cloud well, you have to change the way you write apps."
Overall, however, Moorman said the open-source cloud revolution is just starting to take hold and there's a great deal of room for growth. Still, he said, there are enough users and partners interested in the cloud and making the leap to cloud environments that open source will have a strong place in the market moving forward.
"It's definitely new. It's definitely emerging, but the community responds pretty darn quickly," Moorman said. "But it's yearly days and the project is pretty young. The proof is going to be in the pudding."