Julio's Blog

Building an Open Cloud Strategy

Image Credit: The Open Road by Gayle Nicholson

“Choices made, whether bad or good, follow you forever and affect everyone in their path one way or another.” --J.E.B. Spredemann, An Unforgivable Secret

For several years now, one of the most used words in the last couple years in every IT organization has been “cloud”. Why? Because using or providing “cloud” services is one of the main objectives for CIOs and CTOs across the globe.

In 2017, the “cloud” word is not new anymore, but still relevant and a big part of the IT transformation process. Here are some numbers that highlight the importance of cloud adoption:

The importance of cloud was reaffirmed when the big tech companies like Amazon, SalesForce, Google, Microsoft, IBM, VMware, Dell, Red Hat, Oracle, and HP joined the race to become “cloud” providers and get a piece of the market share. Enterprises across the world also knew that in order to compete and survive in a technology driven world, IT transformation was imperative: one must join the cloud revolution.

The Problem

One of the main problems with Cloud adoption is, without a doubt, the lack of a Cloud Strategy. Gartner estimates that “less than one-third of enterprises have a documented Cloud Strategy”. In my opinion, having a cloud strategy will provide multiple benefits to an enterprise, including:

At the end of the day, having a Cloud Strategy should enable the IT leadership to plan and be effective using cloud technologies as the base for IT modernization and digital transformation.

Going beyond a Cloud Strategy: Adopting an Open Cloud Strategy

Open Cloud is not just using Open Source software to build private or hybrid clouds. In my opinion, it is also the adoption of the open source culture and best practices as the cornerstone of an Open Cloud Strategy.

For example, when talking about Open Cloud, let’s not forget that most public cloud providers use open source software as their foundation, and making their offerings able to have interoperability with open source software workloads has been a priority for large vendors like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. The reason behind this strategy is simple: open source is great for business!

Here are some of the benefits of adopting an Open Cloud Strategy:

Some of the benefits outlined before could be exemplified by the following open source project examples:

Here are some of the things to consider while adopting an Open Cloud Strategy:

  1. Business impact.
  2. Cultural impact
    a) Evaluate the cultural impact of adopting an open cloud approach in the organization.
    b) Evaluate the benefits of the open source community model and how that could drive collaboration and innovation in the organization.
  3. Workload impact
    a) What will it entail, from a technology point of view, to adopt open source? For example, which workloads will need to be migrated or re-architected.
  4. Learning curve
    a) The level of effort required from the employees to efficiently manage the new technology.
    b) Is there internal talent inside the organization with expertise in the technologies to be adopted that could accelerate the learning curve process.
  5. Software assessment
    a) While adopting an Open Source project to be part of the cloud strategy, there are several questions that should be asked to determine complexity and impact of the implementation and maintenance :
    • License type
    • Age of the project and maturity
    • Public references of success (enterprise usage)
    • Number of contributors
    • IT experts opinions about it
    • Enterprise support availability
    • Change rate: commits, frequency, number of releases
    • Size of community

Bottom line, adopting an open cloud strategy at the end of the day is a business decision. A decision that now more than ever is easier to make because of the increased benefits and popularity of open source projects and their communities, the impact of their use in the enterprise, and the amount of quality Cloud computing open source projects available (OpenStack, Kubernetes, Docker, LXC, KVM, Ansible, etc.).

Julio is a Principal Cloud Architect at Red Hat working on Linux, Virtualization, Cloud (OpenStack), and Containers.Julio was born in Cuba but now calls home Austin, TX.