It’s an odd concept, to think of the cloud as being proprietary. For years, the big players in the cloud industry – Microsoft, VMware, Amazon, and Cisco, to name a few – have been telling companies about the wide-open nature of the cloud, and about how they can do anything they want from just about anywhere in the world. The catch, of course, is that all of this openness only happens on a proprietary platform owned or operated by the provider. In some cases, moving data or applications might be possible, but in others, data is locked-in to one single cloud no matter what a company may want.
In answer to this strange duality of open and closed, a number of open source cloud options are beginning to take shape in order to allow developers and companies more transparent access to the cloud at large. Notables in this field include Eucalyptus, Cloud.com, Open Stack, Open Nebula and Cloud Foundry. Attention has recently been on Cloud Foundry from VMware, which looks to offer platform-as-a-service options in open source format for developers, and Open Stack, which has NASA as one of its backers. Open Stack in particular is focused on being what they call the “anti-Amazon” by giving developers and companies access to many of the codes and programs that Amazon keeps to themselves.
While open source alone won’t mean the success of the cloud on a large scale, it is true that much of the way the cloud operates is built around an open source model. Add to that the fact that companies will expect massive portability and the flexibility that providers keep promising, and it’s no wonder that open source cloud computing is taking off.