Re-Imagining Cloud With Open Source

GovLoop’s recent guide, How Cloud is Reinventing Government, explores the how cloud is helping agencies unlock innovation and improve service delivery. The report includes four government case studies, best practices and insights from industry leaders. Below is an excerpt from our guide. Read the full report here.

Government has used open source solutions in a variety of different ways – for everything from powering government websites to running communications platforms. For government to truly re-invent themselves with smart technology investments like cloud, open source plays an essential role.

“Open source makes cloud computing possible,” said Gunnar Hellekson, chief technology strategist, public sector, Red Hat, in an interview with GovLoop. “There are two reasons for this: cost and ubiquity.”

The benefits of open source include reduced costs and improved efficiencies. When leveraged with a cloud solution, agencies gain the benefits of both. This combination creates a powerful IT infrastructure that is flexible, scalable and resilient enough to meet the complex demands of public sector IT delivery. It also provides access to an open source community who can collectively work to address challenges and share best practices amongst each other.

“Open source projects provide a place for cloud providers and users to build consensus on the best solutions and make those best practices immediately available to everyone,” said Hellekson. “Companies like Amazon, Netflix, Yahoo, and Google regularly release new open source projects so they can work with the larger open source community on these problems.”

The benefits of an open cloud model extend to it being a secure IT solution. As the market has matured, and programs like FedRAMP have continued to develop, agency leaders are increasingly gaining the confidence they need to know that cloud is a safe and secure solution. For government agencies using cloud, security will always be a concern, but its use does not present the same kind of roadblocks as it did in the past.

“The greatest threat isn’t security in the traditional sense,” said Hellekson. “It’s the unprecedented consolidation of government computing to a relatively small number of cloud providers. With that in mind, it’s more important than ever that agencies have the tools and policy they need to ensure that their exit from a cloud provider is as easy as the entry. If you can’t easily quit your cloud provider, you’re vulnerable to price hikes, bad service, and the other hallmarks of lock-in.”

Hellekson shared one example from a client who has deployed Red Hat’s platform-as-a-service solution, OpenShift. “This bureau is very federated, and wanted to provide its developers with a single, standardized platform to build applications on. The trick is they had to make that platform attractive enough that all the offices and programs underneath them would be willing to migrate,” said Hellekson. “OpenShift was perfect, because it gave them a platform they could standardize on, and still operate it wherever they need: in a public cloud, in the central data center, or in one of the offices. The standardization lowers their operating expenses, and the developers are much more effective because they don’t have to worry about operational concerns.”

Red Hat is helping government adopt safe and reliable cloud solutions by leveraging an open source platform. “We’re working with one agency who was pretty happy with their VMware infrastructure, but didn’t care for how much money it cost. They wanted a lower-cost alternative, and found it in our Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization product,” said Hellekson. “They didn’t want to train people on two different products and operate two different silos. So, they used our CloudForms product to manage both the VMware and Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization infrastructures. Now, they can compete the virtualization layer of their data center, which will keep costs even lower. CloudForms also let them add resources from Amazon, so they have their legacy VMware infrastructure, the new, lower-cost and open source Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization infrastructure, and all the public cloud resources they need, managed and governed and metered as they need it.”

Cloud computing has been a game-changing development for government agencies. With the use of an open platform, the possibilities for innovation in the cloud become limitless, allowing government agencies to re-think business operations and service delivery.

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Red Hat is the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, using a community-powered approach to provide reliable and high-performing cloud, virtualization, storage, Linux, and middleware technologies. Red Hat also offers award-winning support, training, and consulting services. Learn more here:

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