Even before the pandemic led to increased remote work migration, many organisations were becoming increasingly reliant on cloud solutions to streamline systems and workflow.
By Danie Thom, hybrid cloud platform specialist at Red Hat
But as with any enterprise technology, implementing cloud solutions comes with questions about the best way for individual businesses to harness their benefits.
By now, we’re realising that using a single cloud vendor can lead to limitation, and that a flexible, multi-vendor strategy is better for innovation. Although using a variety of cloud environments gives businesses the ability to adapt to changing business requirements, it also requires integration.
Open source gives organisations an answer to this: it offers unmatched flexibility while also cutting the costs of software acquisition.
A lot of the cloud is already built on open source
Open source vs proprietary software conversations may lead one to believe that open source is the exception rather than the rule, but Linux, the open source operating system that revolutionised data centre operations, enables almost all of the major public clouds being used today.
It continues to power new cloud-native technologies. Kubernetes, an open source container-orchestration platform, has also become the industry standard for managing cloud-native workloads. It automates the deployment, scaling, and management of application containers and allows you to move workloads effortlessly between on-premise, private, or public cloud infrastructure.
It’s clear that open source cloud shouldn’t be treated as some kind of strange new tech, but what exactly are the business benefits of using an open source cloud in a hybrid environment?
Agility in a hybrid cloud environment
The public cloud is the best way for organisations to access IT resources that can easily be increased or decreased as needed, offering flexibility, scalability and cost-savings (if used correctly). Internal private clouds, with their on-premise servers, give companies some of the benefits of the cloud with added security and without having to sacrifice control of their environment.
To take advantage of the best of both the public and private cloud, many businesses implement hybrid cloud environments.
Historically, organisations have managed their public and private clouds separately, but an open source hybrid cloud approach allows them to integrate these different environments into a single, comprehensive platform. This means on-premise services can have the same agility, functionalities and seamless experiences of a versatile public cloud.
If businesses want the same flexibility from their on-premise data centres that they experience with the public cloud, they can no longer manage them in traditional and siloed ways. You must be prepared to adapt your technology, people, and processes to gain any advantage.
When computing demands fluctuate, businesses should be able to divert their workloads in a way that is both optimal for performance and for usage costs. Open source technology and methodologies enable this, and they mean that a business is less likely to be constrained by the functionalities of its cloud solution.
Compared to proprietary solutions that are rarely cross-compatible, open source cloud infrastructure is also designed for interoperability, allowing different apps, servers or containers to work in harmony on different public cloud providers’ platforms. You could even duplicate your infrastructure from one cloud to another without a significant amount of modification, meaning less time wasted and increased productivity.
With the convergence of virtualisation (running multiple virtual machines on a single server) and containerisation (ways of running multiple applications on a single virtual machine) helping businesses run more by using fewer resources, open source hybrid cloud approaches become even more beneficial.
An open source hybrid cloud platform allows you to containerise apps into their individual functions and develop and manage them all in one place – regardless of what platform they come from. There’s no need to worry about the underlying tech; open source gives you a portable, stable, and secure way of running your applications. Developers also become more productive and operations more efficient.
Freedom of choice
Proprietary cloud solutions create vendor lock-in, often limiting businesses to standardised solutions that can result in walled software gardens and dependency on one provider’s suite of products or services. This limits a business’ options when they need added functionality, platform integration or simply want to change cloud providers.
With an open source cloud, you’re never tied to functionalities or one particular platform, instead giving you the ability to choose from whichever cloud services best suit your needs.
Businesses that use open source cloud services can also integrate them into one cohesive ecosystem and customise them to their specific needs. This allows them to use a vast ecosystem of technology and services – creating a digital platform that fits their unique requirements, with secure, automated application runtimes.
Rich integration, business process automation, and automatic decisioning can be used to create immersive customer engagement anywhere.
An open ecosystem
We shouldn’t be thinking about the cloud as the location of workloads and resources, but rather how we run them. The key to unlocking the power of the cloud is to treat it like an ecosystem, fostering interconnectedness, openness, and standardisation across cloud architectures.
An open source cloud strategy is made for this as it increases code quality, flexibility and the availability of features, improves visibility over every layer of infrastructure, and gives businesses the ability to move between platforms.
Because of its interoperability, going the open source route also doesn’t have to mean businesses need to move away from their existing proprietary cloud architecture. Rather, it allows them to gain independence and create custom solutions where they most need them.
With collaboration and openness being the future of software and the future of cloud, if businesses want to remain both integrated and innovative, an open source cloud strategy is essential.