For anyone in this day and age, one could hardly miss the memo that cloud is one of the main trends driving computing this decade.
According to the Forrester research firm, the global cloud market is expected to grow from US$40.7bil (RM122.1bil) in 2011 to more than US$241bil (RM723bil) in 2020, nearly a 600% increase.
Cloud has already moved into the mainstream lexicon - we have moved beyond talking hypothetically about what cloud is and its benefits, to a more practical nuts-and-bolts view of how to achieve this cloud vision.
One concept that has gained significant traction in the past year is that of a hybrid cloud.
A crossbreed mix between public and private clouds, hybrid clouds are the next step in thinking about the cloud space.
A well-designed hybrid cloud enables organisations to take advantage of the scalability and cost efficiency of a public cloud, and retain the data governance, security and control of a private cloud.
When properly built, hybrid clouds offers a strategic advantage to businesses by redirecting resources from siloed IT provisioning to service innovation.
When you splice together a hybrid environment where services talk to each other – rather than sitting as stand-alone applications – you can build a tapestry of rich, engaging services for your target audience, whether they are customers, internal, or public-facing.
The future is open
How to achieve this vision best, we believe, is through an open hybrid cloud.
An open hybrid cloud is not just about technology or specifications. It is more than just partners announcing their endorsement of a particular technology platform, or the submission of some format to an open standards body.
Open hybrid cloud is about a vision in creating an open cloud environment for flexibility, portability and innovation.
We believe that an open hybrid cloud has these key characteristics:
It is open source
Don’t want to be locked in by the technology and business roadmap of an IT vendor? If you want to be in control of your own IT destiny and have visibility into the technology of your business, there is no better argument than this for open source.
Open source also allows you to collaborate and connect with passionate communities who truly drive and lead innovation. This fast-paced innovation could be a critical strategic business advantage for your organization.
It has a rich, robust, independent community
Open source is not just about the licensing of the code or technology - at its beating heart, it is also about the people behind it.
Open source communities provide a rich environment and network structure where organisations can tap in and collaborate. Open source communities form the base of a large pool of skilled IT workers, often more so than proprietary closed environments.
The idea of an open source community also extends itself into the enterprise space – where customers, partners and IT vendors work together to innovate and bring more ideas to overcome existing and new business challenges.
It can be deployed on the infrastructure of your choice
The cloud is an abstraction above the foundation layers below it: Virtualisation, storage, networking, etc. need do not need to be tied to any specific vendor technology infrastructure.
In fact, this open structure is fundamental in enabling robust hybrid clouds that encompass various different physical server infrastructures, multiple virtualisation platforms and a wide range of public cloud services.
It is based on open standards that are independent of implementation
For full flexibility, approaches to interoperability should not be tied to specific platforms under the control of specific vendors.
Additionally, an open hybrid cloud should be extensible with an open API that is not controlled by a specific vendor. This allows users to add features, providers and technologies from a variety of vendors and sources. The flexibility and freedom to choose is key to open hybrid clouds.
It enables full portability to other clouds
If you develop an application for one cloud, you should not have to rewrite it in a different language or use a different API to move this somewhere else.
An open hybrid cloud framework ensures that retesting and re-qualification isn’t necessary every time you want to redeploy. Investments made in developing for one cloud – code, data, frameworks – should be portable elsewhere, resulting into cost savings.
All of these reasons are why the future of computing will be run on open clouds.
The basic step towards open hybrid clouds is already here with OpenStack.
Established late last year in Sept 2012 by the non-profit OpenStack Foundation, OpenStack is a global software community of developers collaborating on a standard open source cloud computing platform for public, private and hybrid clouds.
To date, it has more than 7,000 individual members from 100 countries and 850 different organizations contributing to it, including companies like Red Hat, HP, and IBM.
In short, clouds will change the future of computing - it is open and it is already here.