For Open Cloud Computing, Look Inside Your Data Center

For all the talk about openness and interoperability in cloud computing, both public-cloud and private-cloud providers still operate very much in their own silos.

Amazon, Rackspace, Google, Microsoft are all doing wonderful things — but they’re doing so largely within their own environments. And while (most) data center vendors can’t offer users complete vertically integrated cloud stacks, they’re more than happy to lock users into their product lines as much as possible and form strong partnerships in areas they don’t play.

However, the writing on the wall suggests that, from the customer’s perspective, things might be changing for the better — especially when it comes to internal clouds.

Two of the best examples, as I discuss in my weekly column over at GigaOM Pro, are Red Hat and Eucalyptus. Both open-source companies have increasingly popular products that compete well with the big dogs — VMware, Microsoft, Citrix and Amazon. Red Hat’s continuously high profits in the face of the economic recession show customer confidence that might follow it into the cloud when it starts pushing such a migration. Eucalytpus appears to be doing strong business as well. According to reports, the company, which has raised $5.5 million to this point, is now valued at $100 million.

Openness is picking up on the hardware side, too. Dell, for one, has been touting its open approach to picking components, and it bolstered its argument with a slew of cloud announcements this week, as well as InfoWorld test results that show Dell blades performing on par with those from market leaders. At this point, a standards-based approach anywhere in the stack should be welcome: While open standards have long been a rallying cry of cloud commentators, reports from the recent Cloud Connect event suggest we can expect to wait a long while until meaningful software standards actually emerge.

How the internal-cloud market will play out is anybody’s guess, with systems and software vendors all trying to establish themselves as cloud-computing leaders.  What’s clear, however, is that open source and open standards will have a place within cloud data centers at levels currently not present in the public-cloud sphere.

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