Hybrid Cloud: Proprietary Source Code or Open-Source Code? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Thalia Walker   
Monday, 17 June 2013 22:29

Even though statistics show that virtual environments are not inherently less safe than enterprise data centers, over one-third of decision-makers felt that putting sensitive data into a cloud environment would be unsafe. To combat their fears, many organizations are turning to the hybrid cloud. For some, it has the best of both worlds: a private cloud for sensitive data and mission critical applications, and an inexpensive public cloud for non-critical workloads. When considering the hybrid cloud, organizations have to decide whether to go with a proprietary solution, like VMware, or an open-source solution like OpenStack.

How Hybrid Clouds Work

The hybrid cloud blends one or more public clouds with one or more private clouds. Private clouds can be either hosted or on-premises. An organization may decide to use a hybrid cloud to keep critical assets and functions private while using public clouds for anything non-critical. For example, internal applications may be housed in the private cloud while external applications are housed in the public cloud. Alternatively, a private cloud could be used for a sensitive function, like production deployment, while a public cloud is used for development and testing.

Another use for the hybrid cloud involves a term called "cloudbursting." Cloudbursting transfers heavy traffic for a private cloud application into the public cloud for scalability. For instance, if a retailer experiences heavy holiday traffic, then it might use a public cloud during the holiday to accommodate the increased volume. Instead of purchasing additional on-premises infrastructure for times of peak demand, the retailer can "cloudburst" to the increased capacity of a cloud services provider (CSP).

Advantages of Open Source

The source code used for the cloud environment can come from open sources, like OpenStack and CloudStack, or from proprietary sources like VMware. Open source has multiple advantages, including:

  • Avoiding vendor lock-in. Using open-source code means that organizations don't become dependent on any one vendor for their hybrid cloud services.
  • Lower barriers to entry. The availability of open source means many smaller CSPs can build their own cloud services. Because regional solutions offer positive solutions for problems like latency and local support requirements, regional providers are viable cloud services solutions for many organizations, particularly small businesses.
  • Increased competition. Lower barriers to entry mean more potential CSPs and more competition. In many cases, increased competition is better for the consumer.
  • Seamless hybrid experience. No matter what platform a company is using for its private cloud infrastructure, open-source public clouds are often easy to integrate, creating a seamless hybrid cloud experience for IT and end users.

Advantages of Proprietary Source Code

Going with a VMware solution instead of open-source code also has a number of advantages, such as:

  • Lock-in is everywhere. Open source doesn't mean that switching vendors isn't inconvenient and painful.
  • More maturity. At this point, open source isn't mature enough for higher-level functions like production services.
  • Solid support. If you use source code from VMware, then you aren't on your own when difficulty strikes. You have a support network when problems occur, and you have well-developed training curricula and solutions.
  • You know what you're getting. An open-source solution may not stay open for long. For instance, many open-source solutions already have Apache licenses.
  • Less learning curve. Proprietary solutions are easier to implement and learn. Open source can't be learned in a day, and you're going to incur additional training costs. Also, open-source code often has many parallel developments running at once. Your staff may experience confusion when trying to remember which version performs what functions.
  • Turnkey applications. If you use a proprietary solution, then you have a set of applications optimized to run on that platform. If you use open source, then you have to perform compatibility analysis for every application.
  • Compatible with hardware. Going open source often means running specialty hardware. Your company has to rely on third-party drivers instead of dealing directly with a vendor.

Make your life easier by using a proprietary source code. Open source means freedom, but it also means an increased workload. Time is money; one of the advantages of the hybrid cloud transition should be a decreased IT workload.

About the Author: has overseen cloud migrations for many Fortune 500 companies and is an expert on VMware solutions. She writes for several print and online publications.



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