What's Needed For Open Source Cloud Computing to Succeed?

by Ostatic Staff - May. 03, 2010

When will open source cloud computing solutions truly compete with Amazon, Microsoft, Google and other proprietary players in the cloud? That question is being widely asked, as Paula Rooney makes clear here. She notes that former Microsoft open source guru Sam Ramji said at the recent Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit that "The cloud will be open when the community gets together and builds a cloud infrastructure.” Is that really the necessary shoe that must drop for open source cloud solutions to make a difference, though?

We've taken note of the up-and-coming players in open source cloud computing numerous times, as have our buddies over at GigaOM. We've also talked extensively with the folks over at Eucalyptus Systems, one of the most promising open source cloud startups.

“Eucalyptus Systems’ mission has been to support the open source Eucalyptus on-premise cloud platform while also delivering solutions for large-scale enterprise deployments,” said Dr. Rich Wolski, Eucalyptus Systems co-founder, CTO and former director of the Eucalyptus research project at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), when we talked with him last.

The significant thing about Eucalyptus' effort is that it is straddling various cloud strategies. It has a software infrastructure that lets companies straddle private and public cloud offerings. In many cases, companies may be able to use infrastructure solutions like Eucalyptus' with their own servers and systems in the cloud. In these kinds of scenarios, an expensive, widely available cloud infrastructure may not be totally necessary for cloud efforts to succeed.

Still, I agree with Ramji that the best solution for widespread deployment of open source cloud solutions would be for a consortium, financially backed by enterprises, to deliver a dependable hardware and services infrastructure to build upon. From securing uptime to many other issues, companies need a dependable platform managed from the outside.

Ramji notes that the Open Cloud Initiative and Open Cloud Consortium made inroads, but more is needed on this front if open source cloud offerings are to become truly competitive. Someone has to be running the underlying infrastructure.