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Open Clouds Lead To Innovation

This post is part two of a three part series examining how the cloud accelerates innovation. Tune in next week to read how the cloud frees IT from creating applications and other on-premise restraints, and how it can ultimately attract new talent, both of which foster innovation.

Last week we looked at how cloud computing can spur innovation and free IT’s time to act as conduits for value-add by distancing themselves from daily firefights.

And as much as the cloud sparks that innovation flame, the open cloud can ignite a conflagration. It’s no secret that Rackspace supports open clouds. Through OpenStack we’ve helped re-invent how clouds are made and we’ve used the open standards afforded through OpenStack to completely rebuild our own cloud from the ground up.

While the cloud and its adoption supports innovation, selecting the wrong platform could build a barrier or a roadblock; it can result in less choice instead of more innovation. Getting caught up in the trap of lock-in can actually hamper innovation, and when adopting cloud infrastructure the specter of lock-in looms.

Open clouds lead to more choice. They increase the choice of vendors that you and your business can leverage to build and maintain new applications. Take OpenStack, for example; OpenStack allows organizations to create cloud services on commodity hardware and leverage the development efforts of a community of hundreds as opposed to the will of a single entity.

Open cloud ecosystems directly impact innovation. That effect may be long term, but great things don’t happen overnight. An open ecosystem harnesses the energy of more contributors or vendors, which, in turn, enables new capabilities to arrive faster. Proprietary alternatives can’t say that. Just look at the rise of the open source Linux operating system and the innovation it has generated.

Another positive side effect of open clouds and open standards is the introduction of interoperability. Open standards allow for many different services from many different sources to mesh together to create new capabilities.

Some vendors are catching on to how open clouds kick start innovation. OpenStack comprises Rackspace, NASA and a host of other organizations developing in an open source community to deliver a cloud operating system. The innovation effects can be seen here at Rackspace, which just this week launched the next generation Rackspace Cloud powered by OpenStack, a cloud product suite that runs on top of the OpenStack platform the community built.

OpenStack isn’t alone in its push for open standards in the cloud. Facebook has launched the Open Compute Project, a community-driven effort to create low-cost, green data centers leveraging powerful, yet low-cost hardware. VMware makes its open contributions through its Cloud Foundry cloud platform and released that code to the open source developer community. OpenStack, meanwhile, has created a community that is looking to tie all of those components into a single system to drive a new paradigm of innovation in the cloud to create new products and services, which will also lead to the launch of new companies and new jobs.

Working in a community-driven environment to build out a cloud ecosystem has positive effects on innovation. Those types of communities attract services partners, independent software vendors and other enterprises that all work together to make the project better, which can boost the speed to market more quickly than just one company working on its own.

OpenStack has comprised some of the largest and most significant vendors, each of which provides its own technology to light the fire of innovation within an enterprise: Microsoft, Dell, Intel, AMD, Opscode and a host of others have put their stamp on the OpenStack project with tools and offerings that build out a cloud ecosystem and get the innovation juices flowing.

Where cloud computing eliminates the barriers and the bottlenecks of on-premise IT that stunt innovation, the open cloud and OpenStack are taking that one step further and removing the bumps in the road that can hinder innovation, which are often prevalent in commercial and proprietary cloud offerings. Adhering to open standards and taking an open approach to the cloud helps enterprises avoids the lock-in that can arise from using proprietary systems and makes the road to innovation a much smoother ride.

The issues and topics discussed in this blog post, and the ones to follow, can be examined more deeply in the new whitepaper, How The Cloud Accelerates Innovation, which is available for download now.

About the Author

This is a post written and contributed by John Engates.

John Engates joined Rackspace in August 2000, just a year after the company was founded, as Vice President of Operations, managing the datacenter operations and customer-service teams. Most recently, John has played an active role in the evolution and evangelism of Rackspace’s cloud-computing strategy and cloud products.

John is also an internationally recognized cloud computing expert and a sought-after speaker at technology conferences, including CA World, the Goldman Sachs Techtonics Conference and Cloud Expo. He speaks on the future of cloud computing, enterprise cloud adoption, data center efficiency, green data center best practices, and more.

Click here to learn more.


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