OpenStack Takes a Cue from Linux


Linux has been the gold standard of open source operating systems since the early 90s. Today, it’s used by programmers, coders, designers and techies of all stripes because of the flexibility and security. So it makes sense, then, that when NASA and Rackspace set out to build an open cloud, they took a few pages from Mr. Torvalds’ book.

John Engates, CTO of Rackspace, recently gave a keynote speech about this very topic at the Cloud Expo in Silicon Valley. What reasoning did Engates provide to back up his support of the Linux model? A few highlights of his argument are outlined below:

The Makeup Of The Linux Model

Before you can understand why the Linux model is so effective, you first need to have some idea of its basic makeup. Easily the most notable feature of the Linux model is its dedication to providing open access for multiple vendors. The belief is that, in offering a place for a variety of vendors, Linux is ultimately providing more choice to users and ultimately providing them with a better experience. As Engates stated during his keynote speech, the inclusion of several vendors means that Linux has been marked by “numerous vendors bringing their own strengths to the table.”

How Can OpenStack Make Use Of The Linux Model?

First conceived in 2010, OpenStack is a revolutionary Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) platform put together by Rackspace and NASA. OpenStack (and other cloud communities, for that matter) can take the best features Linux has to offer by opening access to a wide array of vendors, as opposed to maintaining an aura of exclusivity. The platform has already done this to some extent, allowing vendors such as Hewlett-Packard and Intel to get in on platform development. This cooperation began after Engates and his team realized that the old approach to cloud technology just wasn’t working. After realizing that OpenStack was on the wrong path, he decided that it was high time the platform took the software it had already developed and open it up to other vendors.

Ensuring Quality Storage In The Cloud

Just like when the cloud itself was first introduced, security is a main concern for many businesses that are considering adopting an open cloud. Linux provides a great example of how secure open source can be, though. A lot of that is due to what’s called “Linus’ Law”—if enough people are looking for problems, they’re going to be spotted far sooner. It’s the power of crowd sourcing focused on keeping everyone’s data safe.

In the end, the decision surrounding the appropriate cloud model must be left up to the individual or organization. But, as John Engates argues, there is definite value to be gained from going the open source route.

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