Cloud computing has become one of the most significant technical and business trends in decades, and, with the understanding that IT is a business asset that must be able to expand and contract as needed, increasingly, companies are turning toward the cloud as a way of improving the agility of their computing environments. The goal is simple-to have the best possible resources at the best price possible, without increasing capital expenditures.
A new Hurwitz white paper, "Linux and Commercial Software: Combining to Support the Cloud Environment," sponsored by IBM, lays out a concise definition of cloud computing, and explains the economic benefits for companies of building, managing, storing and leveraging cloud environments, as well as the advantages of rich Linux open source technology as the foundation of the cloud.
According to the report, key characteristics of cloud computing include elasticity, self-service provisioning, ubiquitous network access, ability to measure usage, location-independent resources, and support for openness. The report cites Linux as a common denominator for cloud environments because it is open source and provides the ability to customize the platform for wide variety of customers and service providers.
While cloud flexibility is a critical factor for business leaders, the report points out that economic considerations also rank at the top of the list of requirements, and in fact, cost is a paramount consideration for both cloud service providers and for customers. Because the Linux operating system is available without license fees, it significantly reduces the costs for cloud providers, which in turn are passed to customers. Moreover, because of the widespread use of Linux in cloud environments, the cost of finding technical resources is less than proprietary environments.
A key principle of an effective cloud is that the environment must be optimized for the workloads that have to be supported, the report notes. And, an open source platform such as Linux ensures that the cloud developer can customize the operating system platform for the specific customer requirements. Therefore, it is important that the Linux kernel supports componentization and is well suited to scale-out computing environments, in which service providers typically run a heterogeneous collection of commodity hardware, networking capabilities, and storage equipment. And the report points out, because so many developers have Linux skills, it is more cost-effective to locate talent rather then training developers in a proprietary environment.
The combination of open source and the modularity, efficiency and scalability of Linux has propelled it to the forefront of the cloud market, but the reality is that cloud environments have to live in harmony with traditional data centers and with a range of third-party cloud platform and application environments, the report acknowledges. Therefore, a key attribute of Linux and open source is its ability to act as a "good citizen" rooted in standards and portability.
Read the new white paper here.