A Guide to Open Source Cloud Computing Software

A Guide to Open Source Cloud Computing Software
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Open source cloud computing software can offer distinct advantages to organizations, often leveraging strong user and developer communities and aggressive release cycles. Here's a look at the current open source cloud computing landscape.

While there are a good number of commercial offerings on the market for building cloud infrastructure, before you start spending hard cash you may want to take a look at the open source options that are available. While often referred to as "alternatives" to commercial counterparts, open source cloud software is anything but. And in many cases, the open applications were the first cloud technology of their kind on the scene.

There are many reasons to turn to open source software for your cloud computing needs. Depending on the size of your business, you could see considerable savings when turning to one or more of these open applications. Additionally, you could find yourself competing with large-scale businesses that are actually running the same open source software as you, in effect evening out the playing field a bit. See: Cloud Computing Solutions: IaaS, PaaS, SaaS

But there are other reasons that might compel you to try out these offerings. Many cloud computing open source projects have larger user bases. Because of the low barrier to implement the software, there is a wider number and variety of people using it, and often a vibrant community behind the software that acts as a support system. Typically, open source projects are innovative, with aggressive release cycles that push the technology forward. In fact, users often determine the next feature release cycle based on real-world business needs.

And, open source means open access to application programming interfaces (APIs) and the open standards they are written against. More transparency in the application code base often helps move the innovation forward and increase knowledgeable community support.

Across the many cloud computing service models, such as user cloud (a.k.a. software as a service), development cloud (a.k.a. platform as a service) and systems cloud (a.k.a infrastructure as a service), there are a large and diverse number of applications to choose from and both commercial and free open source offerings. As you'll notice, many of the open projects excel in their purpose because of the large, open communities of developers committed to creating innovative software and hoping to further cloud technology. Fortunately, there are open standards and many of the open source applications interface with one another, allowing you to pick and choose your apps and build a solid, interfaced cloud computing solution for your enterprise.

Examples of these applications and solutions include Salesforce.com, Google Docs, Red Hat Network, VMware Cloud Foundry, Google AppEngine, Windows Azure, Rackspace Sites, Red Hat OpenShift, Active State Stackato, AppFog, EC2, Rackspace Cloud Files, OpenStack, CloudStack, Eucalyptus, OpenNebula and many more.

Let's take a closer look at the open source cloud computing software available today.

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