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What users are saying about open clouds

Market research firm IDC says that data from a new survey shows that "open cloud is key for 72 percent of customers."

Cloud openness, and what "open" means exactly in the context of cloud computing -- whether on-premise or in a public cloud--are hot topics at the CloudOpen conference, which is being held by the Linux Foundation in San Diego this week. CloudOpen is a new event being run in parallel with LinuxCon.

That those on stage and in the audience at this event favor openness is hardly news. Nor is the fact that an open cloud is a challenge that goes beyond open source. During a panel moderated by Red Hat's John Mark Walker, Greg DeKoenigsberg of Eucalyptus Systems described the situation as "fighting to maintain openness in a space that strongly mitigates against it at every opportunity." At the same time, several panelists acknowledged that many users will, by default, take the easiest path, whether it's open or otherwise. For this reason, Joe Brockmeier of Citrix opined that it is "up to users to demand certain rights." He added that you "cannot count on a mandate that the cloud provider do the right thing."

Linux Foundation

New data from market researcher IDC offers insight into what users, as opposed to vendors, think of this debate. The Linux Foundation has published data derived from an IDC survey conducted in July and August:

  • When it comes to businesses, 72 percent say that the use of open-source software, open standards, and/or open APIs are key factors when choosing a cloud provider or building their own cloud.
  • Running on Linux and open APIs are among the Top 5 characteristics important to an open cloud.
  • In terms of users, 47 percent plan to add more Linux and open-source software in the next 12 months to support their cloud plans.

The full results from the survey will be included in a forthcoming IDC report.

In a blog post, the Linux Foundation's Amanda McPherson writes that "the results confirm that enterprise users feel openness in the cloud is important. They want to participate in an open ecosystem and value open-source software, standards, and APIs for their cloud infrastructure and platforms. This is simply what they expect due to two transformative decades of software development thanks to the rise of Linux and open-source software."

IDC's Gary Chen presented additional data from this and other surveys at CloudOpen. In his presentation, Chen noted that "lock-in potential [is] high for cloud. Customers value open clouds." He went on to say that "the open sourceĀ–developer community has a unique opportunity to help shape this transition." This community aspect of open clouds is particularly valued by enterprises, according to Chen, because it "inspires confidence in the sustainability and longevity of their investment," a "large ecosystem of hardware and software adds value to cloud platforms," and it serves as a "valuable resource for support and information." In all, "94 percent of enterprises think community is important in adopting cloud."

In an interview, Chen added that "these things have always been somewhat valued." But cloud is "so broad that it could have a huge impact on everything" and therefore, users feel that it's especially important to get it right.