OpenStack chair: Linux at the cutting edge of the cloud

Alan Clark offers tips on cloud migration, talks up the open-source model.

The cloud-dominated world of modern IT is the perfect breeding ground for the spread of Linux in particular and open-source software in general, according to the man responsible for guiding one of the most important open-source projects.

SUSE director of industry initiatives and open-source Alan Clark is also the chair of the OpenStack Foundation. Speaking Monday at the Linux Enterprise End-User Summit in New York, he said that the efficiencies in money and time provided by an open development model are proving to be potent draws for new adopters.

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Citing a report from the Linux Foundation published in March, Clark said that the top reasons given by business managers for moving to collaborative development models are faster development cycles and faster time to market.

What’s more, Clark said, the value of skilled cloud engineers is rising so quickly that companies must try to share the wealth.

“We’re getting into a very competitive environment for talent,” Clark said. “[The open-source model is] not just sharing the costs, and it’s not just reducing development costs, it’s sharing the expertise.”

Engineers working collaboratively on open-source projects offer more value to companies than they do working on their own, according to Clark.

“A good open-source environment is one where you’re able to bring in all the different vendors … and capitalize on their expertise,” he said.

Clark also offered some advice to both line of business and IT leaders pondering a move to the cloud. It’s particularly important, he said, to make sure that any cloud deployment matches up with the business processes involved – employees won’t want to use a service that disrupts the way they do their jobs too badly.

The idea, according to Clark, is to position IT more as a consultant or service when it comes to the cloud.

“This is a case where your IT department should look at themselves in a new light,” he said.

Trying to move too quickly, however, can be counter-productive, Clark added, urging businesses not to “try to eat the elephant all at once.” Understanding the specific workloads involved in the move, he said, is critical.

“There’s all kinds of potential workloads out there,” he said. “Some are easy, some might be hard, some don’t actually make a lot of sense in the cloud.”

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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