Cloud versus open source

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Is cloud computing against open source? Is it true that it locks users into proprietary, non-open source software?  Is cloud computing “standard?”

Cloud computing is a model for enabling cost effective business outcomes through the use of shared application and computing services. The value, if possible, is better economics in the execution of business processes. Adopting a standard approach can help in reaching this level of efficiency.

Although cloud computing drives the need for new standards like any new technology, it’s important that cloud builds on and uses the standards that were present in the previous market cycle.

In the picture shows cloud as a normal evolution of HTTP, Java, Web Services, SOA Governance, and Open Virtualization Format.

However, the top concerns for CIOs is the need for interoperability and openness and this can be achieved only with open cloud standards.

Unfortunately the reality of standards is that dozens of new communities and organizations have been formed around cloud standards, including industries and governments, without a customer-driven prioritization and focus within the cloud standards development process.

Different standards exist for Architecture, API, Virtualization, Management, Storage, SLA, Network, and Security in the cloud.

To help clients navigate this complex environment, IBM has developed a smarter approach to standards development: innovative, practical, architectural, and user driven.

  • Cloud standards must be innovative in that we must carefully think about invention versus reinvention, and new standard or reuse of an existing standard.
  • Standards must be practical, so they need to take advantage of real world implementations and open source code. Today’s standards should be proven in practice through implementation, not based strictly on theory. For this reason, IBM works closely with open source communities to implement standards during the development phase in order to test and “prove” their value.
  • Cloud standards should be set in the context of a standard architecture, allowing enterprises to manage change across market evolution cycles and extending the value of clients’ services-based architectures and investments. Towards this goal, IBM has contributed the Cloud Computing Reference Architecture to The Open Group as the basis of an industry-wide cloud architecture (
  • Finally, cloud standards should be user-driven, based on real world client pain points.

This is why IBM, jointly with more than 45 leading cloud organizations, formed the Cloud Standards Customer Council, to create a cross-industry client-based view of market-leading cloud use cases and best practices:

This consortium wants to achieve several important goals for cloud standards:

  • Drive user requirements into standards development process
  • Establish the criteria for open standards based cloud computing
  • Deliver content in the form of best practices, case studies, use cases, requirements
  • Gap analysis and recommendations.

Deliverables created in 2011 were:

  • “Practical Guide to Cloud Computing,” a nine-step process that simplifies the cloud adoption
  • “Cloud Computing Use Case” guide.

In plan for 2012 are:

  • “Service Level Agreement Cookbook”
  • “Security Standards Gap Analysis Report”

In the area of cloud architecture, IBM is also very active in The Open Group and ISO SC 38, both international standards bodies in which IBM is driving consistent use of the Cloud Computing Reference Architecture.

In support of the management of cloud solutions, IBM recently contributed the Topology and Orchestration Specification for Cloud Applications (TOSCA) to OASIS. This important new standard aims to enhance the portability of cloud applications and ease the migration of existing applications to the cloud.

Because security is high priority concern for clients, IBM is driving consistency in standards for cloud auditing and identity management in the cloud through leadership at OASIS and DMTF.

Similarly, IBM is driving consistency in Platform as a Service and Infrastructure as a service interfaces through the development of standard application programming interfaces for interoperability and portability (DMTF, SNIA, DeltaCloud and OpenStack).

So, back to the original questions, can we still consider cloud as an inhibitor for open source?

The manifesto from is “The promise of open source is better quality, higher reliability, more flexibility, lower cost, and an end to predatory vendor lock-in.”

Can we extend this manifesto to cloud as it is?

In my opinion, all these characteristics can be re-enforced in a cloud environment:

  • Cloud can be a better quality service compared to a traditional service, because in general the cloud provider can guarantee better process and performances compared to what a customer can implement.
  • Because a cloud provider has a better structured and managed data center, the reliability services are often higher than what the customer can guarantee.
  • Regarding the flexibility, often cloud means less flexibility, but in exchange, it guarantees lower costs.
  • As a final point, using an IBM approach for cloud can avoid vendor lock-in because rules for interoperability are shared among the open source community.

In my opinion, the true question from the open source community should be, can we expect sometime in the future to have an “open source cloud?”

I have searched the word “cloud” in the and I have not found any entry!

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