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Benefits of OpenStack Private and Hybrid Clouds

OpenStack For Private & Hybrid Clouds: Costs, Benefits & Risks

The benefits of using OpenStack stem, in part, from the fact that it is a cloud platform and all cloud platforms offer similar benefits. But there are advantages to OpenStack that stem from the way this particular open source cloud platform was created and developed.

Let's start with the common benefits of cloud platforms. Clouds can lead to improved server utilization over conventional server virtualization. With a cloud, users can start and shutdown virtual instances as needed without direct support of IT staff. This is especially important when running large, ad hoc jobs, such as data analysis. Servers that may be underutilized at a point in time can be used to run additional virtual instances that increase overall utilization.

The fact that cloud users can work with self-service dashboards promotes an environment of more agile development. Developers can quickly move from coding a prototype and running it on small data sets to a cluster of virtual instances. Of course the move to self-service provisioning reduces system management overhead, leaving IT staff to other, higher valued tasks.

Although OpenStack is an open source project, it is supported by multiple established vendors including HP, IBM, Rackspace, Dell and Red Hat.

Perhaps the most significant advantage of OpenStack is the way it embraces the development of new features. Companies like Google, Facebook and Netflix created new cloud and data storage services when existing tools failed to meet their needs. Other companies and organizations benefit from their experimentation and development. In a similar way, OpenStack promotes a DIY approach to cloud computing. 

OpenStack was started by Rackspace and NASA and is now managed more like a consortium than a monolithic organization. This has led to some criticisms of OpenStack and its potential for long-term viability. There is the potential for fragmentation with vendors like HP, IBM, Rackspace, Red Hat all pursuing their own interests. The trade-off is that the OpenStack community will have more options for plugins and tools as well as the opportunity to address any deficiencies in the current set of modules.

There are alternatives to OpenStack for private and hybrid clouds. Microsoft is melding their operating systems and cloud platforms with the most recent releases of Windows Server, Systems Center, and the new Windows Azure Pack. For organizations more comfortable with an established vendor driving the design and development of their cloud platform, the Microsoft option may be a better, less risky option than OpenStack.

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