Enterprise Cloud “Tipping Point” Boosts Open Source Cloud Expectations


Between January 2012 and June 2013, cloud-based memory use increased by 100 percent, cloud storage increased by 90 percent, and enterprises increased their average monthly spending on cloud by 45 percent, according to a recent report. If “enterprise cloud has reached a tipping point,” as the report says, what does it mean for open source cloud projects?

Verizon's 2013 State of the Enterprise Cloud Report Granted, Verizon’s 2013 State of the Enterprise Cloud Report only details the rapid growth of enterprise cloud adoption based on its own cloud services customers, but the report also sheds light on the changing expectations for cloud services. The report lists cloud characteristics in order of importance, with uptime and general availability of cloud services as the highest priority for cloud customers, followed by performance, specifically the speed of processing, storage, and network resources. The design and ease of use for the customer portal and application programming interfaces finishes out the list.

“With more critical applications residing in the cloud, uptime and availability are now essential,” the report explains. Additionally, security and compliance requirements are hot issues as enterprises move more business-critical applications and functions to the cloud. 

And, of course, big data is a huge deal. “Customers repeatedly cite the need to prepare for an oncoming flood of big data, and they’re preparing by moving workloads to the cloud so they can store, access, and process massive amounts of data more easily and cost-effectively,” the report explains.

Open Cloud Implications

For open source cloud services this “tipping point” in enterprise cloud adoption means more customers and also more pressure to deliver the kind of results companies have increasingly come to expect from any enterprise cloud platform whether it’s open or propietary.  

“It means that projects like CloudStack and OpenStack will get more developers contributing and more funding,” explains Emil Sayegh, CEO of Codero Hosting and one of the “fathers of OpenStack”. Prior to his role at Codero, Sayegh worked as the Vice President of Cloud Services at HP, and Vice President and General Manager of the Cloud Computing division at Rackspace. “More importantly, it means that valuable features will start to get added to ensure those projects meet real-life customer needs and real-life use cases,” Sayegh adds.

“For Eucalyptus, reaching this tipping point in cloud adoption translates to our users and customers running more demanding workloads and applications that their businesses depend on,” says Andy Knosp, Vice President of Product at Eucalyptus. “Therefore, we’re focused on providing a cloud platform that is resilient, performant, and scalable and can handle the demands of these applications.”

Apache CloudStack continues to be installed and used in more and more environments around the globe, helping drive enterprise adoption,” says Chip Childers, Vice President of Apache CloudStack at the Apache Software Foundation. Childers expects to see a significant increase in the adoption of CloudStack as more enterprises move from experimentation to production with their private clouds.

Meeting Customer Demand

 How will open source projects ramp up to meet the rapidly growing demand and high expectations for cloud services? 

Sayegh stresses the importance of listening to customer feedback. “Too often open source projects focus on obscure features that few customers benefit from, or that are technically challenging,” he says. Most of IT spend is in enterprises, and most of the market remains untapped, according to Sayegh. 

Knosp says that Eucalyptus’ strategy is to provide a private cloud platform that complements AWS (Amazon Web Services) and is compatible with many of AWS’s services and APIs. “This approach provides users with flexibility and choice as to where they choose to deploy applications — either in the public cloud or on a private cloud — based on the availability, performance, and security requirements of their applications,” Knosp says.

Apache CloudStack is already deployed in several large cloud service providers (CSPs), and those CSPs continue to help push the project to reach new levels of scalability, according to Childers. “With the largest deployment at around 40,000 physical hosts today, CloudStack is already easily able
to handle the majority of private cloud scaling requirements,” he says. Childers says that CloudStack has been architected to support workload styles that require per-VM availability, while at the same time  allowing consumers to easily deploy cloud-native applications that have been designed to survive individual VM failures.

Ensuring Security  

One concern with the open source cloud is security, especially as more enterprise services and data move to the cloud. 

“Security is all about end-user policies when it comes to these cloud stacks and the security policies of a provider you are hosting with,” he says. Sayegh says that open source projects are more secure because more developers are looking at and contributing to the code.

“Leading public cloud service providers are working extremely hard to address perceptions and concerns regarding security by providing secure access to their services, VPNs, multi-factor authentication, and physical and industry-specific certifications,” Knosp explains. He says that Eucalyptus addresses security for private clouds by providing policy-based identity and access management controls, built-in firewalls, and encryption, and also provides a security response team.

“Apache CloudStack enables cloud operators to offer a number of security-related services to their consumers,” Childers says, adding, “This is especially true in the area of network isolation technologies, since Apache CloudStack supports orchestration of a range of network isolation models from traditional VLANs for small environments to multiple network virtualization products.”

Childers says that Apache CloudStack project developers are exceptionally conscious of the software’s role in securing access to resources under its management domain, so they have implemented a clear process for handling new vulnerability reports as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Sayegh says that if open source cloud projects stay true to their roots and listen to customer needs, the sky is the limit. “I believe they can have an impact of the same magnitude as Linux did.”