Open Source Gains Sway in the Cloud

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The Impact of Cloud Computing

The primary driver for cloud computing adoption is shifting from costs to agility.

Within the cloud computing service provider community, open-source technologies have become pretty standard fare, culminating most recently in the creation of an OpenStack platform for managing cloud computing deployments originally developed by Rackspace and NASA.

Since then, Citrix, which commercially promotes the Xen virtual machine that is at the base of many cloud computing service platforms, has vowed to lead the ongoing development of OpenStack. To help achieve that end, Citrix today announced that it is acquiring Cloud.com, a founding member of OpenStack that is a provider of systems management software, called CloudStack, used to manage cloud computing deployments.

According to Wes Wasson, Citrix senior vice president and chief marketing officer, this acquisition will bolster Citrix's standing with public cloud computing service providers that need tools that automate the management of IT infrastructure to the point where one person can manage thousands of virtual and physical machines.

Why traditional IT organizations - beyond wanting to emulate best-management practices in the cloud? Even though they are heavily committed to VMware technologies at the moment, the movement towards hybrid cloud computing is going to expose them more to open-source technologies. Beyond saving on the cost of acquiring software for the cloud, many IT organizations will decide that a common set of technologies across private and public cloud computing platforms will reduce the complexity of the overall environment.

Of course, they could opt for public cloud computing providers that have standardized on VMware. But right now, the bulk of the cloud computing service-provider community is standardized on open-source technologies. In time, virtualization standards such as the emerging Open Virtualization Format (OVF) will make this less of an issue, but even then there will still be cost and overhead associated with managing commercial and open-source virtualization technologies side by side.

It's still too early to say which technologies will ultimately dominate in the cloud. But it's pretty clear that the proponents of open-source technologies for the cloud are pretty well organized, which would suggest that it's only a matter of time before they start to gather more momentum.