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Will You Be An Open Cloud Company?

The thread of cloud has become woven into the fabric of humanity. Think about it; as the world moves to the cloud, everything becomes intertwined.

The ubiquity of networked devices is just the beginning. It’s no longer just servers, computers and smartphones that are accessing the cloud. There is a cadre of connected devices: washers, dryers, coffee makers — you name it — that access cloud resources. The number of connected devices is staggering, and we’re really just at the start.

During my keynote presentation at Cloud Expo in Santa Clara, Calif. today, I shared some data from Cisco that shows there will be 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020. I also pointed to research that indicates that the Internet will double in size every 5.32 years.

Consumers are already there. They’re in the cloud. And the enterprise is being pulled there. Cisco estimated that this year roughly 70 percent of all enterprises will leverage enterprise-class cloud technologies.

Enterprises are now charged with building their businesses on the cloud. It’s no longer a question of if the cloud can help your business. Rather, in this new era the cloud will be your business.

Consider the number of new businesses that wouldn’t, or couldn’t, exist without the cloud: YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram and a host of other game-changing companies that have their entire business model contingent on being in the cloud.

Take Rackspace customer gdgt, for example. Gdgt’s business relies on the cloud. With its live blog of Apple’s iPhone 5 announcement, gdgt drew 55 million page views from around the globe. That blog couldn’t exist if it hadn’t been for the cloud.

Let’s look at current events. During Superstorm Sandy last week, there was an estimated 10 photos per second uploaded to Instagram with the #Sandy hashtag. People turned to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for storm information and to stay connected with loved ones.

And today’s presidential election will be no different. Voters will rely on social media powered by the cloud for up-to-the-second election information. According to eMarketer, in the four years since the last presidential election, social media has become a dominant force. During the 2008 election, Facebook had 44 million users in the U.S. who were of legal voting age, while Twitter had 3.4 million. Fast-forward to today, and the number of U.S.-based users who are 18 and older has exceeded 143 million for Facebook and 24 million for Twitter. Social media is now an incredibly powerful medium and it couldn’t exist without the cloud.

The cloud is now the primary language for how the world communicates. And we think everyone has a right to speak that language and for their voice to be heard.

This dramatic shift to the cloud emphasizes the importance of choice. You don’t want lock-in. You don’t want a single, proprietary vendor for your cloud environment. The cloud is a democratizing technology and we should all have access to it. That said, we should also all have a stake in it and a role to play within it.

Much like the Internet evolved in the open and from open source technologies; so too must the cloud. That’s why we built our cloud on OpenStack and why we’re leveraging OpenStack to power our cloud products: Cloud Files, Cloud Servers, Cloud Databases, Cloud Networks and Cloud Block Storage. We’ve launched an OpenStack-powered private cloud that runs the same software as our public cloud. And we’ve done all of this out in the open, with input from a community of roughly 6,000 contributing developers and 850 organizations.

As the cloud officially becomes the way the world communicates, much like the telephone network just decades ago, we have to level the playing field. Everyone has a right to the cloud. Modern business models won’t work without it. It’s now a requirement.

The pace of innovation has made it certain that in order to survive all companies must become cloud companies. And do those companies want to be beholden to closed proprietary systems? I say no.

So the question really isn’t: will you be a cloud company? The question is: will you be an open cloud company?

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.

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