Welcome!

Containers Expo Blog Authors: Mehdi Daoudi, John Katrick, Progress Blog, Derek Weeks, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: Containers Expo Blog, Open Source Cloud, @CloudExpo

Containers Expo Blog: Article

Open Source in the Cloud

Finding the right partner to create useful solutions out of disjointed technology components

The open source movement is growing rapidly and having a major impact on the way businesses model their IT strategies. One of the business areas where open source is beginning to have a real impact is in the area of cloud computing. Free and open source software (FOSS) is software that is liberally licensed to grant users the right to use, study, change, and improve its design by allowing access to its source code. It has revolutionized the world of information technology by encouraging a community-driven approach to building software and applications. In a similar way, cloud computing uses a distributed resource delivery and usage model, encouraging users to access their resource (hardware or software) via a network. The benefits of the cloud computing model are scalability that appears to be infinite and instant access or provisioning.

One of the most important ways that the open source movement is fueling and accelerating the growth of cloud computing is found in the community-building component. This open source community element has inspired technological and business model innovations across a spectrum of industries and professional service providers.

One example of this is the Salesforce.com AppXchange, where enterprise users of Salesforce.com's SaaS platform can extend, customize and modify their SaaS implementation to meet their own unique business needs, often with just a click of a button. On the other side, AppXchange developers are free to put their own stamp on Salesforce.com's innovative platform and create a new business proposition, geared toward a niche need or service. The resulting combination of an established and tested SaaS platform (Salesforce.com) blended with an innovative and ever-changing suite of new add-ons (AppXchange) helps ensure enterprises that they will always have the most cutting-edge and flexible SaaS platform available to them. This, combined with a quick speed of entry and the relatively low-cost of deployment, helps the enterprise feel more comfortable with a cloud-based solution rather than an in-house custom application.

Open source software is at the opposite end of the spectrum from compiled and ready-to-run software. The source code is included with the compiled version and modification or customization is actually encouraged. The software developers who support the open source concept believe that by allowing anyone who's interested to modify the source code, the application will be more useful and error-free over the long term.

While open source software has had an enduring impact on information technology, making it work for companies and enterprises in the cloud is far more complicated than simply installing a copy of Linux. If a company is serious about using open source in the cloud to cut costs, accelerate development, and reduce vendor lock-in, it must institutionalize skills and create new ways of working. The first need is to understand the benefits and services that open source software in the cloud can provide, what responsibilities and risks it brings, and how to best minimize those risks.

Benefits to Open Source in the Cloud
Cloud computing is a convergence of high performance computing architectures, Web 2.0 data models, and enterprise-scale computing. Think about it as the next phase of service-oriented IT. With cloud computing you are accessing and running IT services, but the services are most often somewhere beyond the corporate firewall or data center and not subject to the same internal concerns of hardware and software limitations, management problems and scalability issues.

Cloud computing combined with open source software enables additional real benefits for enterprises:

  • It allows businesses to deploy applications, systems, and IT resources as services that reside somewhere in the global connected network more cost-efficiently than with in-house solutions.
  • It allows businesses to use the applications, systems, and IT resources of other organizations when needed, realizing costs of scale more effectively than with in-house solutions.
  • It gives businesses access to open source innovations and improvements that can save money and time and improve performance and flexibility in an application that would be unavailable in a traditional packaged solution.

Ultimately, open source cloud deployments can save money, free businesses from vendor lock-ins that could really sting over time, and offer flexible ways to combine public and private applications.

There are a number of open source cloud applications, services, educational resources, support options and general items of interest available today.

Common Open Source Business Solutions Offered in the Cloud
The cloud makes a great platform on which FOSS business models ranging from powering the cloud to offering FOSS as SaaS can flourish. Cloud computing can be seen as a catalyst in innovating FOSS business models. Because strategies have been developed to address many common issues around licensing and intellectual property ownership, the cloud business model can help serve as a blueprint for FOSS innovation.

Some current ways companies are choosing to leverage Open Source Solutions in the cloud include:

  • Powering the cloud: FOSS can power the cloud infrastructure similar to how it has has been powering the on-premise infrastructure to let cloud vendors minimize total cost of ownership. A not-so-discussed benefit of FOSS for the cloud is the use of algorithms such as MapReduce and Google Protocol Buffer that are core to the parallel computing and lightweight data exchange.
  • FOSS life-cycle management: There is a disconnect between source code repositories, design-time tools, and application runtime. Cloud vendors have the potential not only to provide an open source repository of these important items, such as Sourceforge, but also allow developers to build the code and deploy it on the cloud using the horsepower of cloud computing.
  • FOSS dissemination: Delivering pre-packaged and tested FOSS bundles with support and upgrades has proven to be a successful business model for vendors including RedHat Spikesource and Cloud.com. Using the cloud as a FOSS dissemination platform could allow vendors to scale up their infrastructure and operations to disseminate the FOSS to their customers. These vendors also have a strategic advantage in case their customers want to move their infrastructure to the cloud. This architectural approach will scale to support all kinds of customer deployments - cloud, on-premise, or side-by-side.
    The distributed computing capabilities of the cloud can also be used to perform static scans to identify the changes in the versions, track dependencies. and minimize the time to run regression testing.
  • Compose and run on the cloud: Vendors such as Coghead and Bungee Connect provide composition, development, and deployment of tools and applications on the cloud. While these companies are not providing FOSS solutions, a similar business model could be deployed for FOSS, enabling delivery of an entire FOSS application life cycle on the cloud.
  • FOSS as SaaS: This is the holy grail of all the FOSS business models. Don't just build, compose, or disseminate your FOSS, but deliver a true SaaS experience to all your users. In this kind of experience the "service" is free and open source. The monetization is not about consuming the services, but about using the FOSS services as a base platform and providing a value proposition on top of that. Using the cloud as a FOSS business platform would allow companies to experiment with their offerings in a true try-before-you-buy sense.

Open Source in the Cloud - Adoption and Considerations
Open source and cloud computing both create a set of questions for the industry. For example, is there any value in free and open source licenses if all are based on the act of software distribution and software is no longer distributed, but merely performed in the cloud on the global network stage? How can the freedom to innovate be preserved when the competitive advantage of online players comes from massive databases created via user contribution, which literally get better the more people use them, raising seemingly impregnable barriers to new competition?

The key is to rediscover what makes open source tick in the new context of the cloud. It's important to recognize that open source has several key dimensions that contribute to its success:

  1. Licenses that permit and encourage redistribution, modification, and even forking (creating an independent project from one piece of software)
  2. An architecture that enables programs to be used as components wherever possible, and extended rather than replaced to provide new functionality
  3. Low barriers for new users to try the software
  4. Low barriers for developers to build new applications and share them with the world.

The cloud computing industry is still evolving and has not figured out what kinds of licenses will allow forking of Web 2.0 and cloud applications, especially because the lock-in provided by many of these applications comes from their data rather than their code.

Given this context, there are questions that each enterprise must ask in regard to any software - proprietary or open source:

  1. Why is there a "productization gap" in most open source projects?
  2. How can the maturity of open source be evaluated?
  3. How can the ROI of open source be calculated?
  4. What skills are needed to use open source cloud applications in the enterprise?
  5. What sort of open source projects are appropriate for IT departments at the beginner, intermediate, advanced, and expert levels?
  6. What questions need to be answered by an open source strategy?
  7. What policies for governance can be instituted to control the adoption of open source?
  8. What new commercial services can help manage the risks of open source?
  9. Do differences in open source licenses matter?
  10. How will using open source transform an IT department?

The industry is a long way from having all the answers and frequently the right professional services partner is a key element in making open source and cloud computing work in tandem. The right professional services provider can provide best-practice advice and hands-on assistance with a wide range of technical and business process issues related to the use of open source in the cloud.

Open source software is rapidly becoming more accepted by customers as a viable alternative to proprietary software, and cloud computing vendors are starting to provide solutions that meet the needs of the enterprise. By providing the key bridge between the enterprise and the open source communities, professional service providers can be a pivotal key to successful adoption and implementation of open source in the cloud. While cloud computing vendors may have offerings based on open source software, good technologies are not, in and of themselves, solutions. The long-term key to successful open source and cloud technologies is finding the right partner to create useful solutions out of disjointed technology components.

More Stories By Vasanthan Dasan

Vasanthan Dasan is CTO and EVP of Engineering for Smart Infrastructure services at The Armada Group. He is a recognized expert in cloud technology and virtualization software. Prior to joining Armada, he was a Sun Distinguished Engineer and served as Chief Technologist for Sun's Cloud Computing practice, responsible for Sun Cloud business development with enterprises, telcos and internet service providers. Dasan led Sun’s Cloud Computing unit in the architecture, deployment, operation and transformation of cloud computing practices with hosting services, remote services and virtualization software, working with worldwide customers in US, Europe, China, India, Korea, Singapore and South Africa.

More Stories By Haresh Parekh

Haresh Parekh is Lead Architect, Cloud Computing Practice, The Armada Group. He has over 18+ years of experience in Information Technology across different industries in consumer-driven companies; successfully creating, delivering and managing large scale web-based enterprise applications/services (SaaS) at start-ups to Fortune 500 multi-nationals; with extensive experience in application and product development, architecture, databases, team building and infrastructure. During this time, he has been credited with delivering mission-critical, distributed, scalable, high-volume and award-winning systems for companies like Air India, Knowledge Universe, Leap Frog, and eBay to name a few, catering to a user base of hundreds of thousands of users with solutions ranging from $5 to $50 million. In his spare time, he is involved in non-profit and philanthropic initiatives.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
With tough new regulations coming to Europe on data privacy in May 2018, Calligo will explain why in reality the effect is global and transforms how you consider critical data. EU GDPR fundamentally rewrites the rules for cloud, Big Data and IoT. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Adam Ryan, Vice President and General Manager EMEA at Calligo, examined the regulations and provided insight on how it affects technology, challenges the established rules and will usher in new levels of diligence arou...
Recently, WebRTC has a lot of eyes from market. The use cases of WebRTC are expanding - video chat, online education, online health care etc. Not only for human-to-human communication, but also IoT use cases such as machine to human use cases can be seen recently. One of the typical use-case is remote camera monitoring. With WebRTC, people can have interoperability and flexibility for deploying monitoring service. However, the benefit of WebRTC for IoT is not only its convenience and interopera...
The 22nd International Cloud Expo | 1st DXWorld Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo, to be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY, brings together Cloud Computing, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding busin...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Synametrics Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Synametrics Technologies is a privately held company based in Plainsboro, New Jersey that has been providing solutions for the developer community since 1997. Based on the success of its initial product offerings such as WinSQL, Xeams, SynaMan and Syncrify, Synametrics continues to create and hone inn...
Smart cities have the potential to change our lives at so many levels for citizens: less pollution, reduced parking obstacles, better health, education and more energy savings. Real-time data streaming and the Internet of Things (IoT) possess the power to turn this vision into a reality. However, most organizations today are building their data infrastructure to focus solely on addressing immediate business needs vs. a platform capable of quickly adapting emerging technologies to address future ...
No hype cycles or predictions of a gazillion things here. IoT is here. You get it. You know your business and have great ideas for a business transformation strategy. What comes next? Time to make it happen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jay Mason, an Associate Partner of Analytics, IoT & Cybersecurity at M&S Consulting, presented a step-by-step plan to develop your technology implementation strategy. He also discussed the evaluation of communication standards and IoT messaging protocols, data...
Product connectivity goes hand and hand these days with increased use of personal data. New IoT devices are becoming more personalized than ever before. In his session at 22nd Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo, Nicolas Fierro, CEO of MIMIR Blockchain Solutions, will discuss how in order to protect your data and privacy, IoT applications need to embrace Blockchain technology for a new level of product security never before seen - or needed.
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Raju Shreewastava, founder of Big Data Trunk, provided a fun and simple way to introduce Machine Leaning to anyone and everyone. He solved a machine learning problem and demonstrated an easy way to be able to do machine learning without even coding. Raju Shreewastava is the founder of Big Data Trunk (www.BigDataTrunk.com), a Big Data Training and consulting firm with offices in the United States. He previously led the data warehouse/business intelligence and B...
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, whic...
Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo have announced the conference tracks for Cloud Expo 2018. Cloud Expo will be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, and November 6-8, 2018, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DX Expo within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive ov...
"Evatronix provides design services to companies that need to integrate the IoT technology in their products but they don't necessarily have the expertise, knowledge and design team to do so," explained Adam Morawiec, VP of Business Development at Evatronix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Recently, REAN Cloud built a digital concierge for a North Carolina hospital that had observed that most patient call button questions were repetitive. In addition, the paper-based process used to measure patient health metrics was laborious, not in real-time and sometimes error-prone. In their session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sean Finnerty, Executive Director, Practice Lead, Health Care & Life Science at REAN Cloud, and Dr. S.P.T. Krishnan, Principal Architect at REAN Cloud, discussed how they built...
Digital Transformation (DX) is not a "one-size-fits all" strategy. Each organization needs to develop its own unique, long-term DX plan. It must do so by realizing that we now live in a data-driven age, and that technologies such as Cloud Computing, Big Data, the IoT, Cognitive Computing, and Blockchain are only tools. In her general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Rebecca Wanta explained how the strategy must focus on DX and include a commitment from top management to create great IT jobs, monitor ...
"Digital transformation - what we knew about it in the past has been redefined. Automation is going to play such a huge role in that because the culture, the technology, and the business operations are being shifted now," stated Brian Boeggeman, VP of Alliances & Partnerships at Ayehu, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Evatronix will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Evatronix SA offers comprehensive solutions in the design and implementation of electronic systems, in CAD / CAM deployment, and also is a designer and manufacturer of advanced 3D scanners for professional applications.
Nordstrom is transforming the way that they do business and the cloud is the key to enabling speed and hyper personalized customer experiences. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ken Schow, VP of Engineering at Nordstrom, discussed some of the key learnings and common pitfalls of large enterprises moving to the cloud. This includes strategies around choosing a cloud provider(s), architecture, and lessons learned. In addition, he covered some of the best practices for structured team migration an...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud ...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud ...