The Ideal Cloud Computing Deployment Is a Patchwork Quilt of Tools

by Sam Dean - Apr. 05, 2011Comments (0)

In the rapidly emerging cloud computing arena, providers of platforms and solutions tend to fall into two camps. In the first camp, players such as Amazon and Microsoft pitch their cloud computing platforms as end-to-end solutions that provide one-stop shopping for all things cloud. In the other camp, there are players such as Red Hat, focusing on allowing many open source projects to be weaved together into patchwork quilts of cloud computing solutions, offering optimal flexibility to those deploying or enabling cloud applications. There are ever more reasons to believe that the second camp has cloud computing right.

Red Hat's cloud strategy is built around its Cloud Foundations initiative, which includes a huge number of open source projects that can contribute to any individual cloud deployment. As Scott Crenshaw, VP and GM of the Cloud Business Unit at Red Hat, tells InternetNews:

 "At last count the expansion of Cloud Foundations comprises 65 open source projects. So there is a huge amount of work that we're contributing, we're pulling some work from the community, but overwhelmingly this is a contribution on a very broad footprint."

The benefit of this kind of approach is that those deploying cloud applications can mix and match appropriate tools without being painted into a corner by a cloud provider shooting for total autonomy over the deployment. Are people deploying cloud applications looking for this flexibility? You bet. Just take a look at the cloud deployment that Swisstopo, the federal topographical organization in Switzerland, describes in this post. It includes Puppet, Nagios, Varnish and a whole array of open source applications used within and top of the cloud software stack.

This kind of deployment is flexible, and can take advantage of optimized, targeted tools. In our talks with Eucalyptus Systems, which is focused on the cloud for business usage, leaders at the open source-focused company have stressed that, increasingly, businesses will want flexible, hybrid cloud platforms that allow private and public cloud applications to coexist. As the company's CTO Rich Wolski told us:

"A lot of [companies] are basically interested in Eucalyptus for doing the same kinds of things they're doing in Amazon AWS, such as business logic applications, where part of the attraction of Eucalyptus is that they can use it as a platform for seamlessly running their public cloud applications and their on-premise cloud apps."

In other words, the flexibility and extensibility of cloud platforms matters to businesses and organizations, and that's why the patchwork quilt model for cloud deployments--where tools are mixed and matched with each other--holds the most promise. 

In our recent series of posts on real cloud computing stacks, you can see much evidence of this need for flexibility. Take a close look at some of the software stacks described in this post series, and you'll see both platform flexibility and promise for open source tools come rising out of the discussions. You'll see patchwork quilts of tools emerging in the discussions, not locked-down, inflexible platforms.

 



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