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Summary:

For all the talk about openness in cloud computing, both public-and private-cloud providers operate very much in their own silos. However, things may be changing — especially when it comes to internal clouds.

For all the talk about openness and interoperability in cloud computing, both public-cloud and private-cloud providers still operate very much in their own silos.

Amazon, Rackspace, Google, Microsoft are all doing wonderful things — but they’re doing so largely within their own environments. And while (most) data center vendors can’t offer users complete vertically integrated cloud stacks, they’re more than happy to lock users into their product lines as much as possible and form strong partnerships in areas they don’t play.

However, the writing on the wall suggests that, from the customer’s perspective, things might be changing for the better — especially when it comes to internal clouds.

Two of the best examples, as I discuss in my weekly column over at GigaOM Pro, are Red Hat and Eucalyptus. Both open-source companies have increasingly popular products that compete well with the big dogs — VMware, Microsoft, Citrix and Amazon. Red Hat’s continuously high profits in the face of the economic recession show customer confidence that might follow it into the cloud when it starts pushing such a migration. Eucalytpus appears to be doing strong business as well. According to reports, the company, which has raised $5.5 million to this point, is now valued at $100 million.

Openness is picking up on the hardware side, too. Dell, for one, has been touting its open approach to picking components, and it bolstered its argument with a slew of cloud announcements this week, as well as InfoWorld test results that show Dell blades performing on par with those from market leaders. At this point, a standards-based approach anywhere in the stack should be welcome: While open standards have long been a rallying cry of cloud commentators, reports from the recent Cloud Connect event suggest we can expect to wait a long while until meaningful software standards actually emerge.

How the internal-cloud market will play out is anybody’s guess, with systems and software vendors all trying to establish themselves as cloud-computing leaders.  What’s clear, however, is that open source and open standards will have a place within cloud data centers at levels currently not present in the public-cloud sphere.

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  1. It will take time before there will be truly open cloud computing. It has not been so long since it has gone mainstream compared to the way technology has evolved since the 1960s and 70s. As a first step, outsourcing IT is itself a big step forward for businesses.

    Open systems will surely increase the trust factor and the sense of control for those outsourcing.So it is good in the long run.

  2. Simon Crosby Monday, March 29, 2010

    This is an unfortunately confusing piece which illustrates the frequent confusion between openness, interoperability and compatibility. The thesis is that the open source nature of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), and cloud management software such as Eucalyptus is a powerful change for the better, because the openness is essentially standardization of a kind, and with standardization comes interoperability, compatibility, portability and therefore lower costs.

    You’re unfortunately wrong. They are excellent technologies, but their open source nature does not in itself deliver on the values of compatibility, interoperability and portability.

    More here http://community.citrix.com/display/ocb/2010/03/29/Open+Source+does+not+mean+Interoperable+or+Compatible

  3. Simon Crosby on Open Source, Interoperability, and Compatibility – blog.xen.org Monday, March 29, 2010

    [...] Harris at GigaOm has written an interesting, and unfortunately confusing piece which illustrates the frequent confusion between openness, interoperability and compatibility. His [...]

  4. OSS => Interoperability ? « Lapers.be Saturday, April 3, 2010

    [...] Harris at GigaOm has written an interesting, and unfortunately confusing piece which illustrates the frequent confusion between openness, interoperability and compatibility. His [...]

  5. Hi Derrick, great observations. A couple of feedback points:
    1. Internal clouds (or private clouds) are not likely to be more open and interoperable than they are (or aren’t) today with on-premise software platforms. Yes internal cloud platforms will provide a higher level of control over their implementations, but private clouds will most likely become extensions of today’s heterogeneous on-premise data center environments, with heterogeneous platforms from multiple platform vendors, and needing a similar level of process and data integration as before.
    2. Internal/private cloud platforms are not any less about lock-ins than public cloud platforms as well. Cloud platforms inherently require a homogeneous infrastructure to achieve the intended benefits. There’s more benefit for any organization to consolidate onto one internal/private cloud platform (to achieve the economies of scale), and for the platform vendor to provide more reasons to do so. But each implementation of a private cloud platform will likely be different, and many organizations will end up owning multiple cloud environments for different purposes, and resulting in the same heterogeneous environment again.
    3. The core issue is concerns for vendor lock-in, but open standards and interoperability for cloud platforms actually don’t address those concerns well. De facto standards such as OData help opening up access to assets across cloud platforms, but they don’t help improve portability. Unfortunately our desires for portability across cloud platforms will likely not see any more momentum than current efforts around software platforms; but that should not impact efforts around interoperability, and there are lots of positive momentum around interoperability – http://microsoft.com/interop (for example).
    Just my thoughts. Best! –David Chou (Microsoft)

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