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On Earth as It Is in Cloud

Forgive us our proprietary and deliver us openness

The open source world is experiencing some watershed developments that are pushing enterprise-level technologies into a new space that CIOs must now take heed of.

Open source, open standards, open data, open platforms and open clouds are now driving our collective technology futures forward at a pace we could not have imagined perhaps even half a decade ago.

Far less could Linus Torvalds have prophesied what he was about to create when he wrote on 25 Aug 1991 at 20:57:08 GMT, "I'm doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones."

Ubuntu for one has now reached 12.04 LTS in its server iteration (and desktop), where LTS stands for Long-Term Support. This means five years of cover for companies requiring official certification and audit compliance as well as enterprise-level security guarantees from Ubuntu's commercial parent Canonical.

Nobody Ever Got Fired for...?
Today then, Linux has surely come of age like never before? People don't say "nobody ever got fired for buying IBM" quite like they used to; so will we soon see a time when we hear people say "nobody ever got fired for putting enterprise Linux on a server," perhaps?

Having previously aligned Ubuntu Server versions toward the Eucalyptus cloud computing platform, Canonical's latest moves are even more interesting. The firm has now built an enterprise distribution of Ubuntu Linux that incorporates the option to use the OpenStack open cloud platform for building and deploying a private cloud.

This news comes at the same time as OpenStack co-founder Rackspace's unveiling of its first OpenStack-powered cloud database and server offerings, which also happen to be based on Ubuntu.

Rackspace is now offering its cloud databases and cloud servers powered by OpenStack. Controlled via a branded control panel tool, the introduction of these Rackspace Open Cloud products marks the first time any company has deployed a large-scale open source public cloud powered by OpenStack.

Have we set a new bar for cloud computing? The new cloud paradigm then must have:

  1. The option to select from private, public or hybrid offerings
  2. The option to deploy in the hosting provider's data center (in this case Rackspace) or elsewhere if desired
  3. The ability to adopt and adapt with agile computing methods that are "unfettered" by vendor lock in
  4. The ability to build, test and deploy inside the cloud environment
  5. A production-ready cloud that is ready to go, at scale

"Rackspace has delivered on our promise to implement OpenStack into the second largest public cloud on the planet," said Nigel Beighton Rackspace VP Technology.

Quocirca analyst Bob Tarzey argues that standards such as this need to be established if we are to witness continued growth in the use of public cloud platforms.

"This will enable businesses to make use of shared infrastructure for some of the most powerful use cases for public cloud. For this to happen organizations need to be able to build internal cloud platforms that are compatible with those of cloud platform providers. OpenStack looks to be rapidly becoming one of the main standards for provisioning such capabilities and creating hybrid clouds as more and more organizations take it up, attracted by it being open source," said Tarzey.

Rackspace's vision for customers to be able to enjoy multiple types of open cloud that integrate ‘from the get-go' is testimony to the company's fortitude; the firm has put a ‘first foot forward' with regard to open cloud standards to co-found OpenStack in the first place.

What remains to be seen is whether other firms ascribing to the OpenStack standard also back up Rackspace's assertiveness and ‘willingness to invest.' As of now, HP's public cloud ranks as one of the only identifiable production-ready clouds based on OpenStack technology.

A Formative Time of Change
This is still a formative time then, both HP Cloud Object Storage and HP Cloud Content Delivery Network (CDN) have exited public beta and moved to general availability (GA) as of August 1, 2012.

HP senior fellow Brian Aker has spoken on this subject recently to explain how the changing perceptions are defining and driving new business opportunities leveraging the open source community - and OpenStack technology.

The HP cloud blog notes that one of the biggest messages Brian conveyed was that "mindshare matters," i.e., that everything is fixable and HP Cloud's involvement in the OpenStack project, along with a bevy of other large and small companies, is collectively delivering value to the open source community and building a foundation on which companies can drive their cloud strategies for today and tomorrow.

In conclusion, a question: What does HP, Rackspace, Canonical, Ubuntu, open standards and cloud computing have in common? Actually, that's not a question, it's a statement; those elements are all connected, compatible and associated - and that's what counts here.

•   •   •

This post was first published on the Enterprise CIO Forum.

More Stories By Adrian Bridgwater

Adrian Bridgwater is a freelance journalist and corporate content creation specialist focusing on cross platform software application development as well as all related aspects software engineering, project management and technology as a whole.

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