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Open source and cloud computing

This position paper talks about the importance of open source in cloud computing briefly discussing its impact on both service provider market and enterprise market. It also highlights potential pitfalls

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Open source and cloud computing

  1. 1. Open  Source  And  Cloud  Computing    A  Position  Paper  by  Krishnan  Subramanian   Open  Source  And  Cloud  Computing   A  Position  Paper  by  Krishnan  Subramanian     Before the proliferation of cloud computing, open source software entered the enterprise IT helping them cut costs, avoid vendor lock- in and innovate on top of them. It democratized the enterprise software eventually leading to a newer operational model called cloud computing. As enterprises moved into a services based world, the natural question in everyone’s mind was about the usefulness of source code when everything from infrastructure to applications are offered as services. This report will critically examine this question and discuss the importance of open source in the cloud based world while also pointing out to potential problems.
  2. 2. Open  Source  And  Cloud  Computing    A  Position  Paper  by  Krishnan  Subramanian   Introduction   The  first  decade  of  21st  century  saw  large-­‐scale  adoption  of  open  source  software  in  the  enterprise  IT   helping   them   break   free   of   expensive   proprietary   software   wherever   applicable.   This   also   lead   to   the   democratization  of  enterprise  software  market,  helping  organizations  cut  costs,  mitigate  risks  and  invest   valuable   resources   for   innovation.   Even   though   open   source   adoption   increased   dramatically   inside   enterprises,   it   is   not   the   only   option   for   enterprises.   As   cloud   computing   rides   similar   path   to   mainstream   adoption,   there   is   a   lingering   question   on   whether   open   source   is   still   relevant   in   the   services  based  world.     Recent   trends   in   the   cloud   infrastructure   and   platforms   market   segments   seems   to   suggest   the   growing   importance   of   open   source   in   the   world   of   cloud   computing.   Cloud   infrastructure   platforms   like   Eucalyptus,   OpenStack   and   Cloud   Stack   along   with   VMware’s   CloudFoundry   and   Red   Hat’s   OpenShift   platforms   are   making   waves   altering   the   shape   and   dynamics   of   early   cloud   marketplace.   As   cloud   computing  services  mature  and  as  more  and  more  enterprises  adopt  cloud  computing,  what  will  be  the   role  of  open  source  inside  and  outside  the  enterprises?  Is  it  still  relevant?  If  yes,  how  it  is  going  to  help   the   enterprises,   in   particular,   and   the   cloud   computing   market,   in   general.   What   are   the   pitfalls   of   trusting  open  source  software?  In  this  report,  we  will  analyze  answers  to  some  of  these  questions.   Open  Source:  Building  Blocks  Of  Cloud   If  we  look  back  at  the  history  of  cloud  computing,  it  is  pretty  straightforward  to  see  that  open  source  is   the   reason   why   cloud   computing   exists   today.   Let   us   start   with  SaaS   that   evolved   from   the   web   services   idea  from  the  Web  2.0  era.  Even  though  open  source  is  not  the  reason  for  the  existence  of  web  services   today,   it   played   a   critical   role   in   the   evolution   and   eventual   adoption   of   web   services.   The   availability   of   LAMP   stack   at   a   much   affordable   cost   (free   in   many   cases)   helped   accelerate   the   proliferation   of   web   services   and   the   Web   2.0   economy   of   the   late   90s.   Even   though   ASPs   (Application   Service   Providers)   were  ahead  of  historical  timeline  compared  to  SaaS,  they  faltered  for  various  reasons  including  lack  of   modern  architecture  and  delivery  mechanisms.  The  idea  of  web  services  and  proliferation  of  many  open   source   tools   for   enabling   web   scale   architecture   (including   the   world   wide   web   itself)   helped   SaaS   providers  gain  traction  in  the  market.   Infrastructure  as  a  Service  (IaaS)  took  a  similar  path  with  tremendous  help  from  open  source  licensing.   Imagine   if   Amazon   had   to   rely   on   proprietary   software   when   they   wanted   to   offer   Infrastructure   as   a   Service?   Without   going   into   the   hardware   costs   associated   to   meet   the   requirements   of   many   proprietary  software,  think  about  the  difficulty  associated  with  convincing  a  proprietary  vendor  to  alter   their   licensing   terms   so   that   Amazon   could   offer   infrastructure   services.   In   short,   it   is   next   to   impossible   as   software   vendors   will   clearly   resist   innovation   that   could   potentially   disrupt   their   business.   Clearly,   Amazon  depended  on  the  open  source  software  to  innovate  a  new  model  of  offering  IT  services  which   we   call   as   cloud   computing   today.   It   is   a   similar   story   with   Google   too.   There   are   many   cloud   services   built  on  top  of  proprietary  software  today  but  they  are  more  of  a  market  reaction  than  any  innovation.    
  3. 3. Open  Source  And  Cloud  Computing    A  Position  Paper  by  Krishnan  Subramanian   Open  Source  in  a  Services  Market?   No,  it  is  irrelevant   When   cloud   computing   was   taking   off   in   2008   and   AWS   was   synonymous   with   cloud,   Tim   O’   Reilly,   a   well  known  technology  pundit  and  an  advocate  of  open  source,  published  a  blog  post  arguing  that  in  a   services   based   world,   open   architecture   (in   terms   of   open   protocols   and   formats)   triumphs   licensing.   he   essentially  argued  that  when  compute  resources  are  consumed  as  services,  having  source  code  doesn’t   make   any   sense   to   users.   Instead,   he   argued,   it   is   important   to   focus   on   open   protocols   and   open   formats   so   that   users   are   not   locked   into   any   vendor.   Based   on   this   school   of   thought,   a   group   of   advocates   launched   Open   Cloud   Initiative   which   puts   focus   on   open   protocols   and   formats   than   the   source  code.   Yes,  it  is  critical   There   is   another   school   of   thought,   to   which   I   belong,   that   argues   that   even   though   open   protocols   and   open   formats   are   important   to   avoid   vendor   lock-­‐in,   open   source   is   not   just   relevant   but   also   critical   for   the  cloud  market.  Open  source  cloud  infrastructure  software  like  Eucalyptus,  OpenStack  and  CloudStack   (along  with  other  smaller  initiatives)  are  highlighting  the  importance  on  the  Infrastructure  as  a  Service   space   while   CloudFoundry,   WSO2,   Cloudify,   Ironfoundry   and   OpenShift   are   gaining   traction   on   the   Platform  as  a  Service  (PaaS)  space.  One  of  the  criticisms  against  these  open  source  projects  is  their  lack   of  traction  when  compared  to  Amazon  Web  Services.  On  the  infrastructure  side,  AWS  has  a  head  start   against   these   open   source   projects,   especially   OpenStack,   and   it   will   take   some   time   before   these   projects   gain   traction.   More   importantly,   if   we   consider   the   entire   infrastructure   market   which   IaaS   is   expected  to  disrupt,  AWS  itself  has  a  very  small  marketshare  and  there  are  plenty  of  opportunities  for   these  open  source  platforms  to  gain  their  marketshare.  As  enterprises  embrace  infrastructure  services   in   large   numbers,   we   will   see   this   market   reshaping   differently   even   if   AWS   continues   to   extend   their   lead.   As   far   as   criticism   against   CloudFoundry   and   OpenShift,   the   entire   PaaS   market   is   in   its   nascent   stage  and  it  will  be  anything  from  3-­‐5  years  before  PaaS  becomes  mainstream.   Importance  of  Open  Source  in  Cloud  Computing   Even  though  the  proponents  of  Open  Cloud  Initiative  make  a  case  for  open  protocols  and  formats  over   open  source,  it  should  be  noted  that  it  is  possible  to  dodge  open  protocols  with  open  source  software.   As  we  will  explain  in  the  section  below,  even  though  open  standards  can  help  users  avoid  vendor  lock-­‐in   to   a   certain   degree,   the   usual   lock-­‐in   happens   at   the   architectural   level.   Open   source   based   infrastructure  services  can  help  mitigate  these  lock-­‐in  risks  even  though  it  doesn’t  always  eliminate  it.   There   are   many   advantages   of   open   source   both   from   the   cloud   service   provider   perspective   and   the   enterprise  perspective.  We  will  highlight  some  of  the  important  ones  below.   Service  Providers   Even  though  open  protocols  are  important  in  reducing  the  vendor  lock-­‐in  risks,  the  natural  tendency  of   the  market  system  towards  consolidation  means  that  we  will  end  up  with  a  handful  of  cloud  providers  
  4. 4. Open  Source  And  Cloud  Computing    A  Position  Paper  by  Krishnan  Subramanian   serving  the  world’s  computing  needs.  It  is  akin  to  wireless  services  industry  in  US  where  end  customers   are   affected   by   the   monopoly   of   handful   of   providers.   Handful   of   cloud   providers   will   lead   to   lack   of   competition  in  the  market  leading  to  increased  risks  of  higher  costs,  lack  of  innovation,  etc..     Moreover,  a  market  served  by  handful  of  cloud  providers  like  AWS,  Microsoft,  Google,  etc.  cannot  meet   the   diverse   compute   needs   of   the   world   including   regulatory   requirements.   As   world   gets   more   and   more   globalized   and   as   more   and   more   countries   participate   in   the   global   economy   due   to   newer   technologies  like  cloud  computing,  social,  mobile,  etc.,  the  computing  needs  are  going  to  be  even  more   diverse.  A  standardized  set  of  services  from  a  handful  of  cloud  providers  implies  users  reprioritizing  their   needs  to  take  advantage  of  IT  services  available  in  the  market  rather  than  the  market  meeting  the  needs   of  the  end  users.  This  is  clearly  not  going  to  work.  Similarly,  the  handful  of  service  providers  cannot  have   datacenters  in  countries  around  the  world  and  they  cannot  meet  the  regulatory  requirements  of  users  in   many  of  these  countries.     A   federated   ecosystem   of   cloud   providers   is   needed   to   meet   these   diverse   compute   and   regulatory   needs.  Open  source  cloud  infrastructure  platforms  offer  an  opportunity  for  service  providers  around  the   world,  including  hundreds  of  datacenters  built  around  the  world  and  even  smaller  regional  hosters,  to   offer  cloud  services  as  open  source  software  lowers  the  barriers  to  entry  considerably.  Service  providers   can  take  advantage  of  software  like  OpenStack  or  CloudStack  and  build  cloud  services  that  can  meet  the   needs  of  wide  variety  of  users  around  the  world,  from  small  businesses  to  large  enterprises.  Problems   like   network   latency,   local   support   requirements,   etc.   will   make   regional   cloud   providers   an   attractive   option  for  many  cloud  customers.   The  future  of  cloud  services  is  going  to  be  federated  and  open  source  software  is  going  to  help  in  the   proliferation   of   such   an   ecosystem   by   lowering   the   barrier   to   entry   for   smaller   service   providers.   A   good   example  to  highlight  this  possibility  is  the  proliferation  of  shared  hosting  providers  to  meet  the  varying   needs   even   when   the   hosting   market   was   heavily   commoditized.   Thus,   open   source   will   ensure   competition  in  the  cloud  service  provider  market  helping  drive  innovation  at  a  rapid  pace.   Enterprises   As  enterprises  start  using  cloud  services,  they  understand  that  a  standardized  set  of  services  offered  by   handful  of  cloud  providers  cannot  help  them.  Today’s  modern  enterprise  is  a  good  mixture  of  modern   web  applications  along  with  legacy  applications.  The  first  generation  of  cloud  services  like  AWS,  based   on   commodity   servers,   alone   cannot   meet   their   needs.   Enterprises   have   varying   needs   on   performance,   reliability,  security  and  compliance.  Hybrid  clouds  are  going  to  solve  the  enterprise  needs  along  with  a   federated   ecosystem   of   cloud   providers.   Open   source   cloud   platforms   are   important   as   they   give   enterprises  a  seamless  hybrid  cloud  experience  without  exorbitant  costs  and  lock-­‐in  risks.     At   a   recent   Enterprise   PaaS   conference   called   DeployCon   2012,   the   CTO   of   Warner   Music   Group   (WMG)   was   talking   about   how   their   organization   is   taking   advantage   of   PaaS   to   meet   the   needs   of   their   customers   who   access   media   from   many   different   devices   over   the   internet.   During   his   keynote,   he   talked  about  WMG’s  expectations  from  cloud  services.  One  of  the  key  points  he  highlighted  was  how  he   wanted  the  service  to  be  available  on  private  fabric  as  well  as  a  hosted  offering.  He  then  talked  about  
  5. 5. Open  Source  And  Cloud  Computing    A  Position  Paper  by  Krishnan  Subramanian   how  they  used  CloudFoundry  to  build  a  platform  for  their  organization.  Even  though  it  is  not  a  necessary   condition,  it  is  evident  that  lack  of  restrictions  offered  by  open  source  license  of  CloudFoundry  and  its   modular   architecture   made   it   easy   for   them   to   have   a   platform   suitable   for   their   needs.   This   requirement   is   not   specific   to   WMG   alone   but   most   of   my   conversations   with   CTOs   and   CIOs   of   modern   enterprises   highlight   this   point.   Open   source   platforms   accelerate   enterprise   innovation   as   the   lower   costs   and   flexibility   helps   them   focus   their   valuable   resources   on   technical   innovations   that   has   direct   impact  on  their  business.     Potential  Pitfalls  With  Open  Source  Cloud  Software   Even   though   open   source   offers   numerous   advantages,   it   also   has   some   pitfalls   that   could   have   an   impact  in  large-­‐scale  adoption.  In  this  section,  we  will  highlight  some  of  these  potential  pitfalls.   • Even  though  open  source  significantly  reduces  vendor  lock-­‐in  and  interoperability  issues,  there   is  no  guarantee  that  open  source  can  eliminate  them.  For  example,  even  within  the  OpenStack   service   provider   ecosystem,   there   are   many   service   providers   like   HP   Cloud   services   who   add   value  added  services  on  top  of  the  core  OpenStack  platform  or  certain  customizations  to  it  but   the   code   may   not   be   contributed   back   to   the   original   project.   This   increases   the   compatibility   risks  but  these  risks  are  significantly  less  than  those  associated  with  proprietary  platforms.     • Some   of   the   open   source   platforms   are   still   not   mature   enough   for   production   services.   Over   time,   as   the   code   matures,   this   will   change   and   these   platforms   will   be   used   by   both   service   providers  and  enterprises.   • Some  of  the  open  source  cloud  distributions,  like  some  of  the  OpenStack  distributions,  require   some  specialized  hardware  or  vendor  specific  hardware,  ruling  out  the  use  of  certain  commodity   servers  or  existing  hardware.  This  is  not  specific  to  these  open  source  distribution  alone  as  most   of  the  proprietary  solutions  has  rigid  hardware  requirements.   • Except   for   vendor   centric   open   source   software   like   Eucalyptus,   OpenShift,   WSO2,   CloudFoundry,  etc.,  some  of  the  community  driven  Open  Source  projects  are  plagued  with  lack   of   solid   vendor   support.   It   is   important   to   take   this   into   account   while   planning   the   cloud   strategy.   • Some  of  these  open  source  cloud  platforms  have  Apache  licenses.  There  is  always  a  risk  of  the   project  or  one  of  its  forks  moving  to  proprietary  license  in  the  future.     Conclusion   In  spite  of  some  of  the  pitfalls  described  in  the  previous  section,  open  source  cloud  platforms  and  the   federated   ecosystem   of   cloud   providers   enabled   by   these   platforms   stand   as   a   good   alternative   to   proprietary  services.  Even  though  Amazon  Web  Services  has  a  runaway  lead  over  other  cloud  services   and   platforms,   it   is   still   a   very   small   piece   of   the   infrastructure   market   pie.   As   enterprise   adoption   of   cloud   services   increase,   the   market   will   reshape   with   open   source   as   a   compelling   and   competitive   alternative   to   proprietary   services   and   products.   Even   though   the   federated   ecosystem   of   cloud  
  6. 6. Open  Source  And  Cloud  Computing    A  Position  Paper  by  Krishnan  Subramanian   providers  may  appear  to  be  a  pipe  dream  today,  we  are  still  at  the  beginning  stages  of  this  evolution.  As   products   like   OpenStack   and   CloudStack   mature,   we   will   be   seeing   more   and   more   service   providers   evolve  themselves  into  cloud  service  providers.  After  all,  the  hundreds  of  datacenters  around  the  world   are   not   going   to   convert   themselves   into   football   fields.   They   will   take   advantage   of   open   source   software  and  compete  in  the  cloud  service  provider  space.  We  are  going  to  see  innovation  in  many  areas   on   top   of   these   federated   offerings   including   search   and   discovery,   workload   automation,   etc..   Open   source  not  only  empowers  users  in  terms  of  reduced  costs  and  much  reduced  risks,  it  also  serves  as  a   platform  for  innovation.