Software // Information Management
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1/11/2010
02:45 PM
John Foley
John Foley
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Open Source Meets Cloud Computing

The U.S. government is increasingly using open source software in its IT infrastructure. Separately, the feds are adopting cloud computing. Those two trends are about to merge, putting federal IT pros on the forefront of what will likely become an industry-wide phenomenon.

The U.S. government is increasingly using open source software in its IT infrastructure. Separately, the feds are adopting cloud computing. Those two trends are about to merge, putting federal IT pros on the forefront of what will likely become an industry-wide phenomenon.There's no rule that says cloud computing environments must be based on open source code or otherwise be "open." Microsoft's just launched Windows Azure cloud certainly isn't an open source software environment, and Amazon's popular Amazon Web Services APIs (for EC2, S3, etc.) aren't open, either.

Yet, the open source software stack, with the Linux OS as its foundation, is proving to be a popular way of creating cloud environments, and a growing number of open source projects and tools are intended for that purpose. Eucalyptus, which turns server clusters into compute clouds, is one example. Others include the Nimbus toolkit, Deltacloud API and portal, and Simple Cloud API.

As InformationWeek reported in November, the Obama Administration used open source to revamp the Whitehouse.gov site, and it plans to engage the open source community in other ways of working together. The CIO of the Department of Defense, meanwhile, is advocating the use of open source as a way of developing software capabilities more quickly.

At the same time, government agencies, at the urging of federal CIO Vivek Kundra, are exploring the feasibility of cloud computing as a fast, flexible way of procuring server capacity and other IT resources. We have yet to see the feds come out with a position on open source clouds, but the two trends--open source and cloud computing--seem destined to intersect in government IT. Already, one of the earliest examples of a government cloud, NASA's still-in-alpha Nebula, is comprised largely of open source components.

InformationWeek explores the technologies and issues involved in a new report, "Open Source Clouds In Government." The report is aimed at government IT pros who are responsible for their organizations' cloud strategies, but it may also be of interest to IT pros in the private sector.

The report is available for a limited time at no cost. Topics include Cloud Models, Open Source Options, and Putting The Pieces Together. You can download it here.

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