Can Linux Win in Cloud Computing?

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Gerrit Huizenga is Cloud Architect at IBM (and fellow Portland-er) and will be speaking at the upcoming Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit in a keynote session titled "The Clouds Are Coming: Are We Ready?" Linux is often heralded as the platform for the cloud, but Huizenga warns that while it is in the best technical position to warrant this title, there is work to do to make this a reality.

Huizenga took a few moments earlier this week to chat with us as he prepares for his controversial presentation at the Summit.

You will be speaking at The Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit about Linux and the cloud. Can you give us a teaser on what we can expect from your talk?

Huizenga: Clouds are on the top of every IT departments list of new and key technologies to invest in. Obviously high on those lists are things like VMware and Amazon EC2. But where is the open source community in terms of comparable solutions which can be easily set up and deployed? Is it possible to build a cloud with just open source technologies? Would that cloud be a "meets min" sort of cloud, or can you build a full fledged, enterprise-grade cloud with open source today? What about using a hybrid of open source and proprietary solutions? Is that possible, or are we locked in to purely proprietary solutions today? Will Open Standards help us? What are some recommendations today for building clouds?

Linux is often applauded as the "platform for the cloud." Do you think this is accurate? If not, what still needs to be done? If so, what is it about Linux that gives it this reputation?

Huizenga: Linux definitely has the potential to be a key platform for the cloud. However, it isn't there yet. There are a few technology inhibitors with respect to Linux as the primary cloud platform, as well as a number of market place challenges. Those challenges can be addressed but there is definitely some work to do in that space.

What are the advantages of Linux for both public and private clouds?

Huizenga: It depends a bit about whether you consider Linux as a guest or virtual server in a cloud, or whether it is the hosting platform of the cloud. The more we enable Linux as a guest within the various hypervisors, and enable Linux to be managed within the cloud, the greater the chance of standardizing on Linux as the "packaging format" for applications.

This increases the overall presence of Linux in the market place and in some ways simplifies ISV's lives in porting applications to clouds. As a hosting platform, one of the biggest advantages for cloud operators is the potential cost/pricing model for Linux and the overall impact on the cost of operating a cloud. And, the level of openness that Linux provides should simplify the ability to support the cloud infrastructure and over time increase the number of services that can be provided by a cloud. But we still have quite a bit of work to do to make Linux a ubiquitous cloud platform.

What is happening at the Linux development level to support the rapidly maturing cloud opportunity? What does the community need from other Linux users and developers to help accelerate its development and address these challenges?

Huizenga: I'll talk about some of the KVM technologies that we need to continue to develop to enable cloud, as well as some of the work on virtual server building & packaging, DevOps, Deployment, and Management. There are plenty of places for the open source community to contribute and several talks at the Collaboration Summit should dive further into the details as well.

What do you make of Microsoft running Linux on Azure?

Huizenga: Anything that lets us run Linux in more places must be good!

More information about Huizenga's talk can be found on The Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit schedule. If you're interested in joining us, you can also request an invitation to attend.