Cloud should be viewed as a business enabler, making the power of technology more accessible to more people and organizations. If you look back at early technology, it was originally pretty restrictive and expensive. Cloud computing is often called a “democratizer” of technology because of its easy adoption and accessibility and the elimination of traditional business barriers to entry. Cloud, implemented to support a sound business strategy, can be a game-changer especially for small or start up organizations. Larger organizations benefit too, by changing the IT focus from legacy maintenance to business innovation. Another great benefit of cloud is that is can be built on the concept of open. Open platforms, tools and communities.
Open source – A concern of cloud, or any technology for that matter, is the costly proprietary lock in to license fees and vendors that increase costs and decrease flexibility. Open source platforms lessen those concerns. Developed by a community of collaborators (that are often also competitors), customers benefit from the pooled resources and talents of a cloud development community. As it is with Linux, the goal is to increase the overall quality of the platform and eliminate the inflexibility and costs inherent in proprietary technologies. You don’t like the tool or the vendor? Open platforms give you the ability to change with much greater ease. Being open source also gives the cloud platform the potential to capture the most innovative functionality. Collaborating around an open platform lowers the cost of research and development by spreading the investment across the community, which is passed on to end users in the form of lower costs.
Open application programming interfaces (APIs) – Much of the agility and efficiency of cloud comes from automating every aspect of a managed platform. This automation is achieved by making the cloud, essentially, "programmable,” through open APIs. Typically these are REST-based APIs that focus on simplicity and ease of use for developers and admins. In addition to APIs, many of the cloud management components are based on open configuration and scripting formats, for example Chef Recipes and Puppet modules. By opening up the APIs and other management "levers," clouds become easier to manage, enabling the self-service and automation value propositions of a cloud platform.
Open ecosystem – With the rapid explosion of data and the ability to turn it into business insights, IT provides an even greater strategic value to the business. The evolving demands caused by web and mobile delivery and access, social media, big data and BYOD are recent waves of IT transformation requiring IT functions to supply new tools and services. In this rapidly transforming IT context, having a dynamic, thriving ecosystem is key to business success. An open cloud ecosystem ensures that there are no barriers to entry for technologies except merit as determined by trial and adoption. Businesses no longer need to rely only on a handful of IT vendors to support their business strategy and goals. An open cloud ecosystem invites everyone to participate and compete, providing the end-user with far more choice. In this new era of open cloud community, businesses are no longer locked into providers, tools and platforms. With cloud, the sky is the limit.
Each of these three aspects of open cloud works in tandem to strengthen each other. Open source cloud platforms with quality open APIs encourage participation which in turn fuels further development within the ecosystem.
All of us lose when innovations and great products can’t get to market because of the lack of technological capability and capacity. That’s why I am excited about cloud as an alternative and committed to the concept of open as a tremendous customer and community benefit. Though I take a pragmatic view and know that we are in the midst of a relatively new computing concept, I’m really optimistic about its power and potential for so many new and existing businesses. More innovative ideas getting to market and technologies with fewer boundaries can only help us all. That’s the objective- open architectures that enable limitless possibilities to many more people and organizations.