Open Source in the Cloud

Michael Vizard

As cloud computing evolves, the need for interoperability across multiple cloud computing services is going to become a lot more apparent. And when it does, the nature of hidden interfaces in proprietary software is going to become a much bigger problem. So to avoid that issue, the best approach is to use as much open source software as possible.

That's the thinking that drives much of the technology infrastructure underneath The Rackspace Cloud, a unit of the hosting services provider that is led by Jonathan Bryce.

Bryce argues that it's best to use open source software, or at least de facto standard software such as Microsoft Windows, whenever possible. Most recently, The Rackspace Cloud has decided to support Drizzle, an open source successor to the MySQL database that is now the property of Oracle.

Drizzle is currently being developed by many of the same people who originally developed MySQL, but this project is decidedly more robust in terms of performance, which Bryce said makes it ideally suited for the cloud.

The real issue that IT organizations are going to have to contend with is hybrid cloud computing. Because everyone is going to have to deal with multiple clouds, the use of proprietary software and interfaces will not only add to complexity, it also creates a potential lock in. As customers are going to want to be able to move data and applications across multiple cloud computing environments, any type of proprietary technology is not going to be conducive to accomplishing that goal, Bryce said.

Of course, Bryce also knows that standard software means that cloud computing platform providers can't really compete on the basis of the technology, which means at the end of the day competitive differentiation in the cloud is going to come down to how well the overall service is managed.

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