Cloud computing to drive open source
With the cloud computing wave poised to reach the world market in the next 12 to 18 months, open source software and coding techniques are about to hit the big time.
That’s because open source software and the methodologies that accompany it have already been proven to be the chosen route for the vast majority of companies aiming to capitalise on the cloud phenomenon.
For evidence of this, you need look no further than the route companies such as Amazon, Google and Rackspace have taken in building out the massive datacentres they plan to begin selling capacity on in the coming years.
Without fail in each of these examples, open source is either at the core or forms a vital component of what’s on offer. And as cloud computing becomes more a prominent topic, so open source will find greater traction in the market.
The reasons open source is a popular route are not difficult to find. Since the cloud computing players are extremely technically proficient, they have sufficient skill in-house to capitalise on the more open nature of open source – and in doing so, can build a far lower cost solution than what would be on offer from a proprietary technology.
These solutions’ open nature furthermore allow cloud providers to mould and form tools to their own needs, changing and adapting underlying technology rapidly so that extra performance can be eked out of a solution.
Incidentally, cloud companies using open source technologies gain the useful side-effect of adhering to the open standards that the majority of open source solutions subscribe to. This proves to be a great benefit down the line when it comes to integrating disparate line of business systems or solutions providing specific functionality to a business silo.
A number of companies are wondering when exactly cloud computing will hit South Africa, since the topic is becoming an important part of the planning most enterprises in the more developed US or European markets are doing today.
Because of the bandwidth limitations we face locally and despite the arrival of new undersea cables, cloud computing will take on a different form in South Africa to markets where bandwidth is ubiquitously available.
My personal belief is that South African companies will become involved with cloud computing from an internal perspective, building clouds that exist inside their datacentres, but function similarly to clouds located at service providers’ offsite datacentres.
It stands to reason that these customers will need to look at open source technologies just like their outsourced peers, since the level of scalability, customisability and control is just not there in the proprietary world.
For that reason I can’t see why open source won’t go from strength to strength locally over the coming years.
Fred Strauss is technical manager at Obsidian Systems.