Emil Sayegh

Aug 1, 2013

Does Open Cloud Really Matter That Much?

I hear so many people talk about the “open cloud” as if it was some sort of panacea. It seems for some the “open” label matters so much now that it supersedes anything truly meaningful to the customer. Too many hosting vendors are talking about openness on cloud as if it’s the ONLY thing that matters. The question is – does “open” really matter that much in the long term? Mind you, my team and I, among others, are the ones that came up with the concept of open sourcing the Rackspace Cloud, which later led to OpenStack.

The questions that pop in my mind, are questions like is an Open Cloud more important than a high performance cloud? Is it more important than a Secure Cloud? Is it more important than a cost-effective cloud? Is it more important than a Cloud that works? Is it more important than a Hybrid Cloud? All the data out there seems to indicate that Open is important, but not the most important criteria to customers.

What Really Matters

According to the latest NetCraft report, Amazon Web Services is outpacing every cloud in the universe. Yet according to the purists, the Amazon Cloud (AWS) is “closed”. Anyone see the paradox?

The key criteria for a cloud is JUST like traditional hosting:

1. It works!
2. It has the features you need
3. It fits your budget
4. It has the SLAs you need in terms of performance, reliability, response time, etc.
5. It is easy “enough” to use it

When your cloud isn’t meeting customer requirements, then being “open” is irrelevant. If you thought the term “cloud” had some hype around it, we’re now getting lost in this new hype of “openness” and “open source” etc. “Cloud” became perhaps the most abused word in the English dictionary, let’s please not make “Open” be a close second!

Lock-In FUD

Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt – The whole idea of Cloud “Openness” seem to prey on the fear of “lock in”. Meaning that if you need to get out of a hosting environment, because it is proprietary, you can’t. Yet we’ve actually seen recent history where customers have been able to migrate from one vendor to the next, and one technology to the next with minor efforts. Amazon’s cloud does not prevent you for migrating to other hosting providers for one reason or another. We have customers migrating large infrastructure from AWS to Codero on a regular basis.

There is No Data Jail 

Let’s get real, data is not in some jail when you host in a cloud like AWS or VMware. But if it was, your “Get Out Of Jail Free” card is a little something called migration. If you have a decent reason to migrate, you will find a way to migrate. Whether APIs are Open or Closed, whether the infrastructure is Open or Closed – these are frankly small obstacles. The APIs, by definition, are available and accessible to everyone whether it is AWS or anyone else for that matter. Anybody worth their lick that knows anything about coding can write to the Amazon API or any other API out there. So why are we making it such a big deal?

Rackspace’s Open Cloud

While I was at Rackspace, the move to open-source our cloud was done for a very specific reason that had nothing to do with marketing an Open Cloud. My management team at the time, along with Chandler Vaughn, now Codero’s SVP of product development, made the strategic move in order to give us access to all of the open source developers of the world. So OpenStack happened as a consequence. As a result, we wanted to be able to compete with the likes of AWS from a features standpoint. Once the code was open-sourced, an army of developers stepped in to help build the ecosystem – the idea was to achieve near-feature parity.

It turns out building an open platform alone is not enough. Open should mean rapid and relevant features that are superior to the “closed” versions. Rich APIs matter now more than ever. The platform should have enough scalability for customer needs. It’s your IT environment, and that means the Cloud should deliver on your needs when you need it, now and in the future. A good platform should also mean good customer support is behind it so that you’re not left alone when issues arise (and you will have issues at some point). You should have the API bridges you need to make sure workloads are strategically placed on the right infrastructures, and that includes hybrid cloud infrastructure.

Stop the FUD and Nonsense!

Let’s not kid ourselves and our customers. Migrating and avoiding lock-in are not the obstacles that people are making them out to be. Migrations are a blend of process and technologies established a long, long time ago. They happen every day hundreds if not thousands of times over.

We should be talking about what really matters to customers and drop all this “Open” nonsense. Whether technologies are open-source or not is without a doubt an important, but secondary consideration. We should be asking: Does this cloud work? Does it have the features you need? Does this cloud have the scalability you require? Does it have the flexibility you need? Those questions are far more important than Open or Closed.

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  • Florin

    This sounds very much like solving Constraint Satisfaction Problems in mathematics. It pretty much boils down to what the real (not perceived) constraints are and the (real) weight of each constraint.

  • It is so good to explain the superior features of Open Cloud when comparing with Secure Cloud and Hybrid Cloud. We need to choose a hosting services after analyzing our needs.