The State of the Open Source Cloud
Enterprises have for long favored proprietary closed source cloud solutions primarily because they seem to be safer, less risky and cumbersome compared to open source. Lately however, increased pressure to reduce capital expenditure is pushing a significant number of enterprises to the latter, a migration that’s also largely fueled by Linux recent successes.
First came the wave of open source operating systems, with Linux being the most prominent one- then virtualized resources followed suit and now open source cloud computing is not only getting accepted, but also increasingly demanded. According to the 2014 Open Source Cloud Report published by Zenoss, open source cloud experienced exponential growth between 2012 and 2014, with 72% more users. This is partly attributable to OpenStack dominance and benefits that most enterprises are enjoying from open source technology. Some of the most significant ones include:
Proprietary software is usually distributed in closed form- the code is only known and accessible to the developers. That means you don’t have the privileges to scrutinize, develop or further improve it to suit your needs.
Open source cloud applications on the other hand, are usually transparent since all the code is accessible online. This allows you to critically analyze each code element according to its reliability, system suitability and overall enterprise needs. Additionally, you reserve the right to test and further improve certain code elements, consequently making them more stable and error-free.
Making a software open source unlocks its evolution ability. Due to input from different skilled developers and experts, the applications gradually evolve into more efficacious and stable programs. Many consumers are particularly fond of this since they consistently hunt for app versions which have already been subjected to different levels of metamorphosis- and therefore presumably better than original versions. Additionally, in case of any problems, you don’t have to seek or wait for support from the original software developer because any skilled one can handle it after comprehensively studying the code.
Improved Data Security
Cloud application security greatly depends on how and when vulnerabilities are discovered. Closed source applications usually employ a “security through obscurity” approach, by assuming that hidden source code limits access, consequently making it hard for hackers to discover vulnerabilities. The resultant race between their engineers and hackers ultimately dictates the overall security of the individual applications. While engineers work tirelessly to discover and patch them up, hackers are always seeking ways to maliciously capitalize on them.
The best way to beat hackers in this race is introducing additional parties of highly skilled developers working independently- and that’s exactly what open source provides. Some users may argue that revealing the source code opens an application to hackers, consequently making it easy for them to discover and capitalize on the vulnerabilities. Although this may be partially true, hackers are always beaten to the finish line by independent developers collaborating to improve application security and stability.
The race therefore, exists in both instances- In the case of proprietary applications, only the employees are engaged against hackers while open source utilizes a distributed approach, consequently making it more secure. With security being one of the biggest concerns of cloud computing, most enterprises go for the latter option, which grants their IT teams privileges to patch up any vulnerabilities, instead of waiting for third party support.
Organizations that rely on proprietary closed source cloud applications mostly streamline their systems and infrastructure to adopt to their respective applications. Open source on the other hand, allows you to use the opposite approach- you can adopt the applications to your infrastructure and organizational needs. All you need is a team of knowledgeable and dedicated developers to assess the code and tune it according to your specific system needs.
The adaptability characteristic also significantly eliminates the need for external support from software developers, which in some cases, takes time to be executed. Your in-house IT team can monitor the application and entirely support it to maintain optimal performance and avoid compatibility problems. In case they are unable to deliver, they can always seek additional help from the open source application community, which is formed by teams of skilled developers collaborating to optimize various applications.
These benefits, coupled with recent cloud developments, are attracting a lot of users and shaping up current and future predicted trends. Some of top ones include
- Open Source Containerization: With the recent hype surrounding containerization, it’s expected that enterprises will continue adopting it, triggering an exponential revolution over the next couple of years as some combine it with virtualization.
- Mobile Apps Progression: Mobile devices have become a fundamental element in most organization’s networks. In fact, they are increasingly becoming the most preferred endpoint devices. App developers and vendors are responding to this by creating cloud applications, including open source, which are primarily optimized for mobile devices. It’s expected that in the near future, the development of open source cloud mobile applications will surpass regular workstation applications.
Going by recent developments in the cloud world, open source has proven to have great potential for growth over the subsequent years. Although it may not entirely phase out proprietor software, it’ll continue forming a significant framework for enterprises which need to facilitate improved business growth through tailored cloud software solutions. The trend is also catching up with developers, as some are now strategizing on controlled open source experiments that will be rolled out in phases.
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