Although there is a lot of talk about the cloud, only a tiny fraction of workloads is tipped to actually occur there by the end of 2010.
The major concerns and considerations for the adoption of cloud are about the maturity of the platform and model of adoption. The issue with the public cloud, I believe, is that it is the underlying platform, or operating system, that dictates the qualities that give rise to the concerns.
The good news is that using a Linux distro can meet these challenges, but only when controlled.
If we look at Linux or open-source ecosystem adoption since 2007 (services, hardware and software), a significant amount of growth is expected up to 2013 at least.
I believe that about half of CIOs are committed to open source, while another sizable chunk are experimenting.
Many CIOs do anticipate increasing investment in 2011 and even expect to migrate mission-critical software to open source in the next year. Why? They are citing software quality, improved reliability, security and bug fixing.
So open source, in my view, is continuing its relentless ascent, if this is to be judged by global server system revenue growth. And we are certainly finding ourselves being drawn into conversations around Linux.
Server consolidation, green IT, spend reduction and IT impacts may all affect business performance. The challenge that every CIO faces is how to maintain or provide a better service and still cut costs.
In most large organisations, multiple software deployments, developed over many years, have resulted in systems that are costly to maintain, difficult to adapt, and yet remain essential.
Unless system costs can be controlled and productively enhanced, some organisations face difficult choices – such as reducing service levels and cutting staff numbers. Budget management can even exclude even the opportunity of investing to save.
Linux is about cost reduction, performance, independence, choice and security. Of course, open source is not a cure-all, but it can form part of the answer and should certainly be considered.
Choose the right tools for the job, and mix and match where necessary. In most organisations, reduced service is not an option as it so easily starts a cycle of losing customers – and a cycle of further reductions.
For example, the Dutch government achieved greater interoperability, reduced cost and quality improvements from the adoption of an open source-derived office suite.
I believe that many are seeing ongoing, capital and operating costs much lower than for comparable proprietary products. Vendor support may also be much broader for open source, which drives fast innovation and gives IT organisations greater flexibility for tailoring solutions and managing costs.
But this is not just driven by technology considerations. In my role as a member of financial markets watcher Standard and Poors, I come across investors who see businesses with systems built upon open source-based technology as a more secure investment.
It’s probably because of virtualisation and cloud. And Linux can apply successfully here. Prime examples of the successful use of cloud in combination with open source are industry giants such as Google and Facebook.
Facebook supports its social network of 500 million users with LAMP software infrastructure. This open-source approach, also used by Google, Twitter, Yahoo and others, is a departure from the proprietary products offered by Microsoft, Oracle and IBM.
Candidates considering the leap into open source will probably be at one of these three stages:
- Those who don’t have any open source, but are actively considering it.
- Organisations that have some, but have stalled in their adoption.
- Companies where open source is at the heart of their IT strategy.
Although you can safely jump stages and phases in the adoption of new technology to address certain issues faster, such as compliance and resilience, a big-bang approach to adoption is risky. So you need to look at where you can get a quick win, and build a plan.
Peter Dawes-Huish is chief executive officer of LinuxIT
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