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For some, move to cloud computing means move to open source

Some organizations new to open source will sort through a host of alternatives as they consider re-architecting for cloud environments. Hadoop, Eucalyptus, Hyperic are just some of the open source chocolates in the box.

For many enterprise development groups, the move to cloud computing brings organizational as well as technical hurdles. Development managers must sort through a host of open source alternatives as they consider re-architecting for cloud environments that deliver "elastic" (highly scalable) hosted services in-house or over the Internet, according to participants in a recent webinar on "Using open source to re-architect applications for cloud deployment."

The challenge with designing for a cloud target is to be able to understand the uniqueness of each cloud and then be able to design with that as a target in mind.

Bill Potelli, CEO, Collabnet,

"Open source provides many essential elements for cloud computing and provides solutions for re-architecting," said Bill Potelli, CEO of Collabnet. The benefits of re-architecting include a reduction in cycle times and operating costs, and increased flexibility, he said.

Tim Yeaton, the CEO of Black Duck Software, said that open source is "fundamental in public cloud infrastructures." Cited examples include Hadoop, Eucalyptus, Hyperic, deltaCloud, Open Stack and OpenECP.

Yeaton said that as application development moves to multi-source environments, leveraging the best components for the move to cloud is imperative. The re-architecting will require that companies combine open source with the use of traditional technology.

There are technical obstacles too. One of the architectural challenges, said Robert Bearden, an entrepreneur and former principal at open source advocate SpringSource, is that new cloud systems require both a scalable cloud infrastructure and a scalable data platform. One strategy for moving applications into the cloud environment is to separate the application from the data using clustered caching, such as Memcache. Projects that support the cloud environment include deltaCloud, Eucalyptus and Open Stack.

Open source as important cloud development element

Open source's low barriers to entry and abundance offer significant time-to-market advantages and make it an important element of cloud development strategies for enterprise developers, said Melinda-Carol Ballou, Program Director, Application Life-Cycle Management & Executive Strategies, IDC, in a statement.

Transferring applications to the cloud environment achieves one logical view, said Bearden. It can be used as much or as little as needed, staying true to its elastic nature. Migrating from virtualization to a private cloud means sharing multiple physical resources which can all be drawn from different environments.

Potelli agrees that there are challenges with cloud systems, but indicates they are mostly known.

"The challenges really are around designing for the cloud," said Potelli. "Each cloud is a little different from the kind of computer it uses with the networking and the storage – all the heavy lifting of infrastructure and software selection that that infrastructure provides. The challenge with designing for a cloud target is to be able to understand the uniqueness of each cloud and then be able to design with that as a target in mind."

While it is early to gauge how quickly cloud computing can gain attention, there has been movement recently. According to Webinar host Black Duck, a provider of products and services for governing open source software development, analysis of its users showed a 70% increase from 2008 to 2009 in projects associated specifically with cloud. These open source projects account for almost 50 million lines of code. In Black Duck's estimation, Amazon's E2 is shown as the leading cloud environment, followed by Microsoft's Azure and the Google Apps Engine.

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