Why Open Infrastructure Matters In The Cloud

Jason Baker | OpenSource.com | April 8, 2014

When reading a recent article by Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst, I was struck by a comparison made between OpenStack and the interstate highway system. The article in Wall Street and Technology, called "OpenStack: Five things every executive needs to know," mostly focused on the high points of where OpenStack is in its development cycle. But the highway analogy stuck with me.

Part of what made the interstate highway system successful was its standardization and its open nature. "Unlike the early days of the railroads, where track gauges differed and companies refused to interconnect their networks, interstates are open to all who wish to use them," Whitehurst writes. Signage, road widths, and most other components of the system remain generally familiar as one moves from state to state and region to region, with some minor but acceptable variation.

Whitehurst makes the case that many advances we see in computer technology come not from performance advances, but from increasing openness and common standards. As more and more technology moves to the cloud, the importance of openness and compatibility is just as important, to ensure that computing in the cloud remains a rich environment for rapid innovation. The openness of the infrastructure underlying the cloud may be one step further removed from the end user, but it is still of great importance.