Open and in control

DirkPeter van Leeuwen Red HatCloud computing is growing. Like any technology, much of cloud computing’s value will come from an organization’s ability to identify the best approach for its requirements. Currently, it is believed that public clouds, and clouds that feed on-premise IT systems receive the closest scrutiny regarding security, availability and manageability. This scrutiny is likely to intensify as a larger percentage of all IT workloads are re-deployed into the cloud and hosted by outside providers across multiple geographies.

So it is not surprising that CIOs in Asia-Pacific find the hybrid cloud model as a particularly attractive approach given that it can bring together the best of private and public clouds.

Cloud building blocks
The promise of cost savings continues to be one big driver of cloud adoption, however it isn’t just, or even primarily, about tactical cost cutting. It’s about putting in place a faster and more flexible IT infrastructure in support of an organization’s business.

That makes building a cloud a highly strategic IT decision, perhaps the most important single decision CIOs will make in this decade. But not all approaches are created equal. Of the three basic models for building a cloud, one maximizes the value of that cloud and the business benefit derived from it.

The first approach attempts to translate the “greenfield” methodology used by service providers into an enterprise environment. This is alluringly, but also naively, simple. For the vast majority of organizations, IT assets tarred with the pejorative “legacy” are also critical and core to the business so it’s not possible to just start over from scratch.

The second approach builds a cloud from a small part of existing infrastructure, such as an existing virtualization platform. The result? Rather than breaking down and cutting across silos with your cloud, you’ve created a new silo.

The final approach brings the broadest set of IT assets under a hybrid cloud management framework. Supporting these capabilities requires a cloud management product that can span multiple virtualization platforms, a variety of public cloud providers based on a variety of underlying technologies, and even physical servers.

Why open is better
An open cloud makes possible this type of hybrid architecture.

Openness in the cloud is not just a narrow description of a capability, but an overarching philosophy that spans a variety of dimensions. An open cloud includes the following characteristics:

Open source A viable and independent community Based on open standards Freedom to use intellectual property Deployable on the infrastructure of your choice An open and extensible application programming interface (API) Portability of applications and their runtime environments enabled across clouds

Only an open cloud can deliver on the full value and promise of cloud computing. It brings the efficiency, agility, and cost benefits of cloud to more of your IT infrastructure to more applications and more users.

An open cloud leverages your existing IT investments in hardware, software, and training—allowing you to build a cloud in an evolutionary way while reducing costs and risks. It lets you select the best technologies for your users, now and in the future, and prevents one vendor from controlling access to the greatest innovation, the lowest costs, and the best economic model.

Over the next several years, we expect there to be a great deal of innovation in pricing, service levels, service offerings, and security for clouds, both on-premise and public. An open cloud architecture makes it possible for enterprises to take advantage of these innovations while minimizing business disruptions and to utilize these options at the optimal time for their needs and for the appropriate applications.

Closed cloud architectures can limit choices to a small set of infrastructure providers and puts the vendor in control of an organization’s infrastructure. Moving into the cloud is no lightweight challenge. To get it right, it requires investment of both finances and time, but a simplified, efficient, flexible cloud that doesn’t lock you in can be well worth the investment.

The author, Dirk-Peter van Leeuwen, is the vice president and general manager for the Asia Pacific and Japan region at Red Hat.