Why the Open Source Cloud Is Important

By December 6, 2016Blog

In previous years, we have distinguished between open source cloud and others. But as cloud technologies have evolved it’s evident that any cloud without open source would be the equivalent of an automobile without an engine.

In 2006, we distinguished heavily between public and private cloud and open source and closed. Today the conversation has evolved into one cloud fabric of which open source has become an integral part.

Perhaps what has most notably changed is that the initial cloud conversations about capex (capital expenditures) versus opex (operating expenditures) and the actual costs to deploy the cloud are now taking into account the advantages of improved agility and customization. Where open source has traditionally sparked interest because of its free nature (as in no acquisition cost) it’s now being lauded for the much harder to measure but much greater benefits of faster speed to value.  

We also see an improved return on investment for those companies that participate in open source rather than only consume open source. They need to and are investing in the future direction of the open technology they rely upon actively rather than only being passive and opportunistic.

Industry standards and participation are needed

It would be easy, then, to say that open source has won the cloud. Game over. But along with openness in software, there is an overwhelming need for openness across cloud architectures. And while emerging technologies and trends such as containers have done a lot to improve interoperability among components and ensure application portability, much work remains to ensure the trend toward openness and standardization continues.

To this end, foundations such as the Cloud Foundry Foundation, Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) and Open Container Initiative (OCI) at The Linux Foundation are actively bringing in new open source projects and engaging member companies to create industry standards for new cloud-native technologies. The goal is to help improve interoperability and create a stable base for container operations on which companies can safely build commercial dependencies.

When work happens in the open, companies that participate are better able to compete in rapidly changing markets and the entire industry benefits from the increased innovation. That also means companies that do not use and participate in open source cloud projects will fall behind. By harnessing the power of shared R&D companies that participate in open source benefit from:

• Improved code quality

• Increased security with the ability to find and fix vulnerabilities

• Visibility into every layer of the infrastructure

• Code access in order to add features and influence the direction of the technology

• Insurance against lock-in through portability to other platforms

• Lower cost through shared development

• And more.

No single company could develop the technologies on this list on their own. Without open source collaboration, the open cloud we know today would not exist.

We urge companies that rely on cloud computing, and the open source technologies that comprise the cloud, to become familiar with and contribute to the projects and communities behind them.

Contributing knowledge and code to open source projects not only helps companies meet their business objectives, but it creates thriving communities that keep projects strong and relevant over time, advances the technology, and benefits the entire open source cloud ecosystem.

Learn more about trends in open source cloud computing and see the full list of the top open source cloud computing projects. Download The Linux Foundation’s Guide to the Open Cloud report today!

Read the other articles in the series: