Avoiding the Lock-In Trap: An Open Source Solution

By Colby Dyess | July 24, 2014

Enterprises looking to maximize control over their business infrastructure are frequently advised to build a private cloud due to the free reign that such a move affords. In contrast, aligning oneself with a vendor is often seen as a move that inherently limits elasticity, since a company then must conform to that provider's particular standards. For this reason, among many others, the private cloud is growing in popularity, with Forrester survey data revealing that 44 percent of businesses in the U.S. are looking to construct a private cloud in 2014.

But as Eucalyptus CEO MÃ¥rten Mickos pointed out in a piece for Gigaom, the same risk of decreased business agility exists with a company's self-designed platform as it would with a vendor, since the organization has the potential to box itself in by its own customizations. However, there is a way to avoid this situation entirely and reap the full advantages of cloud computing. That answer lies in standardized open source.

Leveraging Open Source to Make Lock-In a Thing of the Past

Mickos pointed out that during his long career in the software sector, he's witnessed many different organizations face the lock-in phenomenon. The typical situation goes something like this: A company aligns itself with a private cloud provider, thereby harnessing its software to launch what appears to be the business' own, self-regulated cloud. But that sense of control is illusory, since by relying on a single, self-contained software provider, the business in effect boxes itself in, and it is no longer able to use resources outside its chosen vendor.

Therefore, what began as an ostensibly cost-saving measure - the shift to a private cloud - can quickly rack up a large tab. In this way, many enterprises harness the private cloud due to its purported agility and end up with the exact opposite: a restrictive situation they can't get out of. Fortunately there is a way to merge the best of both cloud realms, and that involves the use of standardized open source products.

"By using industry-standard open source software products, you reduce your lock-in down to an absolute minimum," Mickos stated.

The efficacy of open source products lies in the easy agility they enable. Thus, the most successful businesses in the cloud are the ones that build a private cloud that relies on open source products to open up new opportunities instead of shutting the door on them. Here are some of the key benefits that arise from the use of open source products:

  • The elimination of lock-in. When a business adopts open source products, it no longer has to rely on a single vendor in order to leverage the software.
  • A move toward self-sufficiency. By getting rid of lock-in, an enterprise takes a true step toward self-support, since it won't have to worry about its infrastructure resting on the functionality of a solitary vendor.
  • Room for experimentation. All companies thrive on trying new things, and open source software renders businesses agile enough to experiment.

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