Deploying Open-Source Cloud Systems: 5 Pros and 5 Cons
Pro No. 1: Flexibility
By definition, open-source clouds offer a higher degree of flexibility than their proprietary rivals. Rather than simply reading manuals or attending training sessions, customers can read and modify the code itself and participate in various projects by contributing software code, starting a related open-source project, providing documentation or holding free seminars.Â Interacting and learning from the broader community provides customers more flexibility in their cloud designs and provides innovative internal or external offerings.
Pro No. 2: Vendor Lock-In
One of the battle cries of open-source clouds is the mantra of "no vendor lock-in." The idea behind this mantra is fairly simple: If you build an open-source cloud using open and widely-available open-source technology, then no single vendor controls the overall system framework. This provides customers with the ability to more quickly react to the rapid evolution of the IT technologies within the open cloud stack. In addition, open-source clouds give customers the freedom to choose which cloud to build based on their individual needs and business goals, rather than being stuck with a single proprietary solution.
Pro No. 3: Savings
Open-source software offers substantial software licensing pricing advantages over proprietary rivals. In fact, whether customers choose to use pure open-source software or commercial open-source software, they can realize considerable savings. In any case, the ability to reduce costs while increasing flexibility is a huge win for any organization.
Pro No. 4: Control, Open Standards and APIs
An open-source cloud uses open standards and APIs that are not controlled by a single vendor. This allows customers to be in control of the underlying hardware infrastructure and management platform, regardless of the technology. Additionally, open APIs provide a level of integration with existing open or proprietary solutions ensuring that your current IT investments continue to be relevant within this new architecture.
Pro No. 5: Portability
When building an open-source cloud, one must also look at how it integrates with other public, private and hybrid clouds. Choosing a technology that is open allows for a higher degree of portability and choices within the broader cloud ecosystem. Rather than being forced to limit your options based on a proprietary technology, customers can seek out different open-source cloud technologies that are compatible with their IT choices, needs and business goals.
Con No. 1: Perceived Lack of Support
Customers that choose to create open-source clouds built on purely open-source software will be dependent on those open-source projects for support. Support will come in the form of crowd-sourcing activities, such as forums, IRC chats, Q&A systems or logging defects within a bug-tracking system. Users will need to become active within the community and contribute to the project in ways that aren't necessary within the world of proprietary commercial software. On the other hand, customers can choose to build their clouds on commercial open source that mitigates this perceived lack of support.
Con No. 2: Vendor Lock-In
How can vendor lock-in be both a pro and a con? Some users actually may prefer the comfort and security of having a single-sourced solution with a single vendor to rely on for support, testing and integration. Customers may have expertise in a single proprietary solution, and having too many choices may be overwhelming and actually slow down strategic projects due to lack of expertise.
Con No. 3: Costs
While it is true that open-source clouds have a significant licensing cost savings to their proprietary software rivals, there are other "soft" costs that cannot be ignored. Open-source clouds may require in-house development expertise and advanced system administrators to maintain the infrastructure. Additionally, outside expertise may be needed in the form of consulting or outside code development.
Con No. 4: Maturity
As the open-source cloud ecosystem continues to evolve, customers may be concerned with the overall maturity of the open-source projects. When building an open-source cloud, the technology choices a manager makes today may come back to haunt him or her in the future. With competing open-source projects and many differing opinions, it becomes hard for the average customer to truly understand which direction to pursue.
Con No. 5: Is It Worth It?
Users want their cloud infrastructure to be highly available, simple to use and agile enough to move at the speed of business. Before building an open-source or proprietary cloud infrastructure, it's important that users review their business goals and rationalize their current IT infrastructure. In the end, building a cloud may not be right for you, and there are other alternatives that may be right for youincluding outsourcing, infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS).