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The Open Source Cloud

An exclusive Q&A with Bennett Bauer, Director of Cloud Marketing at DreamHost

"Open source cloud is enabling a vast developer community that is today building applications to solve the points of integration in this growing area," stated Bennett Bauer, Director of Cloud Marketing at DreamHost, in this exclusive Q&A with Cloud Expo Conference Chair Jeremy Geelan. "Pure, built-in-the-cloud applications that resolve the social, mobile, analytics lifecycle through the cloud," Bauer continued, "and applications that are not hamstrung by trying to integrate traditional corporate data and custom functionality are proliferating."

Cloud Computing Journal: The move to cloud isn't about saving money, it is about saving time. - Agree or disagree?

Bennett Bauer: It's about both, even in these early days. Shifting workloads gradually over to the cloud, starting from the easiest to the hardest to move, can start the money and time savings immediately. For a few years now we've seen development projects, analytics, basic SaaS applications, and ready storage in the cloud served up as needed. The value proposition is already proven: let's not hold expensive assets that take way too long to provision when you only need them for peak project work, analysis, and maybe seasonal spikes.

Throw on top of this the increasing number of software applications written to be cloud friendly, shared among a great many users, available instantly, and eliminating the need to hold expensive licenses, and the value grows exponentially. In summary, we see prices dropping rapidly, and we likewise see ease of use and application scenarios improving. It is the latter, if anything, that will increase the time savings factor and drive adoption.

Cloud Computing Journal: How should organizations tackle their regulatory and compliance concerns in the cloud? Who should they be asking/trusting for advice?

Bauer: This is a unique answer for every company and every workload. To say that a financial institution for instance absolutely cannot use cloud services is just as incorrect as saying that these same institutions should go full-on cloud. Neither scenario is desirable from a risk-reward perspective.

I've talked to many IT leaders at large, medium, and small organizations that recognize almost an urgent need to segment their applications into 1) cloud ready now, 2) cloud ready with modernization, and 3) maybe never cloud ready due to cost and/or compliance issues. Why do I say "an urgent need," because cloud services are entering their organizations whether they are ready for them or not, and the least they can do to manage the onslaught is to set parameters based on the types and security/compliance profiles of the workloads.

The question then comes down to the type of cloud that should be employed: private, virtual private, or public that engender varying degrees of control and risk, and accompanying degrees of lock-in. As for who should organizational IT leaders ask for advice, the answer is a varied as the workloads, and there are good answers, but no one right answer.

Cloud Computing Journal: What does the emergence of Open Source clouds mean for the cloud ecosystem? How does the existence of OpenStack, CloudStack, OpenNebula, Eucalyptus and so on affect your own company?

Bauer: Now we're talking about a very significant impact on utilitarian, cost-effective, and pervasive cloud services. At our company, we did a rigorous assessment of the various cloud stacks, and embraced OpenStack since our long-time open source developer community found it to be the most complete at the time and offered a lot of alignment with our developers' skill sets.

This comes from a company whose co-founder created the massively scalable and resilient open source Ceph storage technology, so we know about this area. Our cloud object storage and computing services are designed around these innovations, and they offer us and the marketplace a great ability to innovate and drive adoption in ways that no one company or a handful of companies can do on their own.

Cloud Computing Journal: With SMBs, the two primary challenges they face moving to the cloud are always stated as being cost and trust: where is the industry on satisfying SMBs on both points simultaneously - further along than in 2011-12, or...?

Bauer: I think we've already touched on the nature of the cost-trust challenge, although I referred to it as risk-reward dynamic. There is no one-size-fits-all formula; it's a business-by-business, application-by-application decision.

In general, I will say however that great numbers of technologists and huge amounts of money are going into increasing cloud automation, which drives down cost, and into innovations such as software defined networking at layers 2 and 3, which drive up security, that cloud is better suited for SMBs on a month-to-month basis let alone year over year. If there's an SMB that can't find an entry point to cloud today, wait until next week or next month.

Cloud Computing Journal: 2013 seems to be turning into a breakthrough year for Big Data. How much does the success of cloud computing have to do with that?

Bauer: Everything. The open source movement to achieve ever more scalable, higher performing cloud infrastructure with off-the-shelf, commodity hardware is game-changing. Big Data requires big and long computational cycles that can be prohibitively expensive. Open source cloud brings the cost within reason. This is where something like our Ceph storage technology, developed from the ground up to run on commodity hardware, excels, and is even being developed as a no-single-point-of-failure alternative to HDFS.

Cloud Computing Journal: What about the role of social: aside from the acronym itself SMAC (for Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud) are you seeing and/or anticipating major traction in this area?

Bauer: Yes to both questions, now and in the future. Open source cloud is enabling a vast developer community that is today building applications to solve the points of integration in this growing area. Pure, built-in-the-cloud applications that resolve the social, mobile, analytics lifecycle through the cloud, applications that are not hamstrung by trying to integrate traditional corporate data and custom functionality are proliferating. They can be much more cost-effective with excellent performance. I believe that the fast pace of development will continue, and it will be an area of much acquisition and consolidation.

Cloud Computing Journal: To finish, just as real estate is always said to be about "location, location, location", what one word, repeated three times, would you say Cloud Computing is all about

Bauer: Open, open, open.

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